How military medicine is leading the way

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How military medicine is leading the way

The U.S. Military, and particularly military medicine, is once again leading the way. Going back to Dr. Walter Reed, the famous U.S. Army pathologist and bacteriologist who proved that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquito bite, military medicine has always been focused on saving lives both on and off the battlefield. Today, military medicine has carried on the tradition of Dr. Walter Reed and is once again leading the way with a focus on the latest advancements in everything from traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and regenerative medicine, to radiation protection therapy, hemorrhage reduction, and countermeasures for new strains of infectious disease, including pandemics and bioterrorism. Yes, military docs have always been about taking care of the combat-wounded, as well as helping them to make sure they have the best rehabilitative care possible after the fight and continue to do so. The numerous medical advancements they have made have also had a dramatic, positive impact on civilian healthcare as well.

This time, the military docs are leading in another way – showing how to put on a government conference with the taxpayer in mind. On Monday, August 12th, the U.S. Military will kick off its 2013 Military Health Systems Research Symposium (MHSRS) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. U.S. Military physicians from the Army, Navy, and Air Force will be on hand to share the best practices from real life experiences on the battlefield concerning the unique medical needs of the warfighter, lessons learned, and what needs to be done to improve casualty rates.

Who can forget the scandal over the General Services Administration (GSA) employee conference in Las Vegas, complete with lavish parties, hot tubs, mind readers and insane skits, which cost $840,000 and led to the downfall of the GSA Administrator?

Now, contrast that with the way the U.S. Military has conducted its medical conferences in years past and this year. Records indicate that, by actually engaging and working with the private sector, registration fees covered all costs of the 2012 conference except for a mere $8.50. Further, beginning last year, the DOD actually eliminated two service specific meetings by incorporating them into MHSRS, and resulting in a cost savings of more than $300,000.

In the wake of the GSA scandal, the U.S. Military instituted a lengthy review and approval process just to be sure the military medical symposium was being done the right way, with both the warfighter and taxpayer in mind. The review process took so long that this year’s conference almost didn’t come about, but the military docs came through the process with flying colors.

This annual U.S. Military medical symposium produces extraordinary results for such a low cost to the taxpayer, too. It has directly led to many advancements in the care of the combat wounded, including the inception of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (ARIFM) to help those who have lost limbs on the field of battle, blood biomarkers for traumatic brain injury (TBI), damage control resuscitation for massive hemorrhage, and many other significant medical innovations. It should not be surprising that NATO allies have taken note of the success in the advancements made by U.S. Military medicine and are now actually participating in growing numbers each year in MHSRS. And, by the way, they pay a registration fee to defray the cost.

MHSRS began 16 years ago as the Advanced Technology Applications for Combat Casualty Care (ATACCC), which focused primarily on treatment and care for the combat wounded. Over the years, all other DOD medical conferences have essentially been rolled up underneath this one, thereby benefitting both the warfighter and the taxpayer. Military medicine has always focused much more on applied research and advanced medical technology designed to save lives today, while the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been more focused on basic medical research. Thus, it is not surprising that the U.S. Military medical community continues to be on the front line and lead the way with some of the most significant innovations for many of the most critical medical challenges facing us today. What is significant is that these same military docs are also leading by example and showing other U.S. Government departments and agencies how to put on a conference with the American taxpayer in mind.

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Van D. Hipp, Jr. is Chairman of American Defense International, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm specializing in government affairs, business development and public relations. He is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union and The National Capitol Board of The Salvation Army. Follow him on Twitter @VanHipp.

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