WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2010 — President Barack Obama’s nominee as assistant secretary of defense for health affairs told Congress today he’ll strive to improve the medical system that serves military members and their families while putting special emphasis on care for wounded warriors.
Dr. Jonathan Woodson pledged during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee to draw on his vast experience as a military medical officer and leader, health care administrator, teacher, researcher and physician to tackle the challenges confronting the military health system.
If confirmed as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ top medical advisor, Woodson said he will work collaboratively with other Defense Department components, federal agencies and civilian organizations while striving to advance military health, its mission and its benefits to its beneficiaries.
An Army Reserve brigadier general with more than 20 years of service, Woodson said he looks forward to the opportunity to enhance medical readiness and provide the level of care military members and their families deserve.
“I have always been personally inspired by the commitment and dedication of those soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen,” he told the Senate panel.
With deployments to Saudi Arabia, Kosovo and the U.S. Central Command area of operations under his belt, Woodson said he will give particular emphasis to improving care for wounded troops.
“The highlight of my career as a surgeon has been caring for the wounded warrior on the battlefield,” he said. “These talented young men and women who have been asked to shoulder the responsibilities of defending this nation and have suffered the consequences of nearly a decade of war deserve the best medical care, both at home and abroad.”
Woodson said he will work with Congress and other agencies to find the most effective strategies for preventing suicide and preventing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
He said he also looks forward to working with Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to streamline the medical evaluation board disability evaluation system and provide smoother transitions when troops transfer from the Defense Department to VA systems.
Woodson paid tribute to the medical professionals “at the heart and soul” of the military health system.
“These true professionals have soldiered alongside their combat-arms colleagues and acted as force multipliers,” he said. “They deserve not only accolades, but real assistance in helping them perform their jobs better and more efficiently.”
Toward that end, Woodson said, he’ll expedite the introduction of electronic health records that enhance health care providers’ ability to deliver quality care.
Woodson expressed confidence that the Defense Department medical system can establish new models that the civilian sector will want to emulate in the delivery of quality care – which he defined as “the right care, at the right time, in the right amount, at the right cost that is safe and patient-centered.”
Woodson currently serves as associate dean for diversity and multicultural affairs and associate professor of surgery at the Boston University School of Medicine and senior attending vascular surgeon at the Boston Medical Center.
In his military capacity, he serves as assistant surgeon general for reserve affairs, force structure and mobilization in the office of the surgeon general, and as deputy commander of the Army Reserve Medical Command.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)