Change is coming to the Air Force Medical Service, but its core mission remains the same, says Maj. Gen. Robert Miller, director, Medical Operations and Research for the AFMS.
“For the AFMS, it’s all about our Trusted Care culture, and it will stay that way,” said Miller. “If we do this transition right, our patients and even many of our medics won’t know anything has changed at all.”
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 requires the transfer of administration and management of all military treatment facilities from the Air Force, Army and Navy to the Defense Health Agency. This process begins on Oct. 1, when select MTFs from each service move under the DHA’s authority.
A new transition cell was recently stood-up to coordinate and support ongoing transition efforts related to the NDAA and transformation of the AFMS.
“Transition cell members come from each AFMS directorate,” said Miller. “They are people who were already doing the work, but now they can make the transition their top priority, and give our transitioning MTFs the support they need as we move forward.”
In any transition, one of the biggest challenges is effective communication. Miller says that consolidating and formalizing the ongoing transition efforts into one group should give AFMS personnel greater clarity on the organizational management and governance changes underway.
“There’s so much happening, and the pace is so fast, that it’s understandable for people to be uncertain about the future of the AFMS and their place in it,” said Miller. “There are challenges in this process, but opportunities as well. It’s our job to make the process as smooth as possible, get clear information out to the field, and maintain the high level of care we provide to our patients.”
One enduring message that Miller wants all medical Airmen to hear is that even as MTFs move to the DHA, their mission will not change.
“I was in clinic the other day, at Malcolm Grow Clinic [Joint Base Andrews, Maryland], and an Airman asked me if I’m losing sleep over this process,” said Miller. “And I told them no, not at all. The world won’t stop turning because our MTFs move to the DHA. Readiness is still our top priority. We will continue to enhance our Trusted Care culture.
Miller says the transition cell can start demystifying the DHA transition for Airmen at MTFs. He points to his own experience as evidence that many of the concerns are misguided.
“I was part of the DHA, the director of Education and Training for about two years,” said Miller. “This transition to the DHA is our future. We’re part of the DHA as medics. You don’t put on the DHA badge and become someone else. This whole military health team, Air Force, Army, Navy and DHA, we have the same mission. We are all committed to our patients and to supporting our combatant commands. We’re all working together to make this transition successful.”