Defense Health Agency absorbs three more DoD medical organizations

As the new Defense Health Agency pushes forward toward its Oct. 1 target date to declare full operational capability, it’s bringing three existing DoD medical institutions into the fold.

The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and the National Museum of Health and Medicine officially became part of DHA on Sunday.

The move would seem to make sense, since DHA’s raison d’être is to prod the three military departments and their independent surgeons general into sharing standardized DoD-wide services, and the three newest editions to DHA are already semi-independent organizations that serve the entire military medical system.

“These three organizations are nationally renowned institutions that broaden our connection with other federal health partners, and with global health organizations,” Lt. Gen. Douglas Robb, DHA’s director said in a statement. “Whether it’s identifying how to prevent or stem the outbreak of disease, doing the challenging work to help determine where our research and clinical practices can be directed to increase survivability or simply allowing us to learn through history, these organizations advance our ability to support our warfighters and everyone who we serve.”

As of Sunday, the former Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center also has a new name: the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch, which will fall under DHA’s healthcare operations directorate, one of six functional areas the agency set up to manage its offerings. Its mission – serving as a clearinghouse for diseases that are being or might be encountered by military members and analyzing and sharing information between the military branches – will not change.

Also, interesting fact about the National Museum of Medicine, formerly the Army Medical Museum: These days, its missions are more-or-less aligned with what we expect when we think about a museum, but its earlier functions included things that have since migrated to other agencies like the CDC and NIH. Founded just after the Civil War, it was essentially a medical research laboratory up until the early 20th Century: its researchers found the cause of  yellow fever and helped develop the vaccine for typhoid fever. It also helped pioneer modern-day medical information sharing, and its methods formed the basis for the National Library of Medicine.


This post is part of Jared Serbu’s Inside the DoD Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition ofJared’s Notebook.