USA — Woodson Pledges to Advance Military Medical System

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)

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