COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Sept. 30, 2014 —
The Defense Department’s military health system has always advanced medical care through periods of war, Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said Sept. 28.
Speaking during DoD News’ live broadcast show, “Adaptive Warrior,” Woodson discussed the evolution of military medical care and the role of adaptive sports in the recovery of wounded, ill and injured service members.
“It’s a tremendous story of advancement of care through war,” he said, “which has been part of the history of the military health system. We’ve always advanced care through periods of war and there’s a lot we could say about that.”
Woodson said he’s had “the honor and privilege of caring for service men and women from the battlefield to my current position as the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.”
Advancement of capabilities
Over this most recent decade-plus of warfare, he said, there have been advancements in the training of medics who provide life-saving immediate care when a serviceman or woman is injured.
“Through the transport phase on the battlefield,” Woodson said, “we now have critical care medics that accompany many of these medical evacuation flights to the resuscitation teams that are on the battlefield.”
The forward surgical teams, he said, are distributed very close to the action to provide resuscitative care to the combat support facilities in theater that now bring all of the sophistication of any hospital in the United States to the front lines.
Woodson also noted in-theater strategy has been “enhanced” by the joint theater trauma system, which has taken all of the data and analyzed all of the cases of the ill and injured and rapidly turned that over into improved patient outcomes.
“But it goes beyond that,” he said. “It’s about that transport phase that brings the ill and injured rapidly back home within, certainly, hours to days after injury after initial stabilization.
“There are in-flight critical care aeromedical transport teams,” Woodson continued, “that continue that care in-flight to deliver that man or woman who’s been injured to Landstuhl [Regional Medical Center in Germany] where additional care is rendered and then back home to the United States.”
Woodson said the sophistication of the advances in medical care has redefined the whole question of ability.
“A lot of this knowledge is being transferred into the civilian sector,” he said. “Now we get regular calls for folks who are being cared for in the civilian sector about how we do business and how we’ve advanced care.
“Victims of the Boston bombing are now being cared for in our systems,” Woodson continued. “Just like our men and women, they were athletes that were injured, and as a result, they’re looking for the best possible outcome.”
Woodson said the “tremendous” advances over the last decade-plus of war have allowed the military health system to remain “an important enabler of the military services to defend this nation.”
Military adaptive sports program
Woodson said the military adaptive sports program is “really special,” because it’s about the commitment to the wounded, ill and injured warriors that allows them to regain ability.
“It really is about ability -- regaining ability so that they can meet the challenges of life,” he said. “I recently heard a wounded warrior say without the military adaptive sport program, there wouldn’t be as much hope for the future, but more importantly, as he said, ‘We’ve learned to kick the ass out of life.’”
Woodson added, “It’s about that healing of the mind, body and spirit. That’s what the military adaptive sports program is all about.”
Competitors at the Warrior Games “want to compete at a very high level,” He said.
“But it’s also about rehabilitating for recreational effort for folks who like to ski, like to swim, like to kayak, like to fish,” Woodson said. “It’s all about restoring them to life [at] its fullest and allowing them to meet all of the challenges. It’s an essential part of rehabilitation.
Conditioned for life
The training involved, he said, and the mental capability to stick with it and compete transfers into a life of being in good condition and being able to stay healthy. So from that standpoint, Woodson said, the combined effects of the military adaptive sports program are very important in “conditioning for life.”
Woodson expressed his appreciation to the Warrior Games competitors for their inspiration.
“I appreciate being here,” he said. “And most importantly, I appreciate the athletes and the inspiration they give us. So thank you very much.”
(Follow Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallDoDNews)