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Health Affairs Tabs Navy Chief for Advisory Position

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 1996 – Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Stephen Joseph announced Sept. 9 the selection of Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Karen L. Sayers as his senior enlisted adviser.

In the new position, Sayers will serve as an ombudsman and representative for enlisted beneficiaries of the military health services system, officials said. Creating the position is part of an ongoing effort to make military health care more customer-focused, they said.

"It is important to keep foremost in mind who our patients are and that we are a system designed to serve their needs," Joseph said.

In the job since mid-August, Sayers is tasked with apprising Joseph of issues important to enlisted service members, contributing an enlisted perspective as health policies are formulated and articulating these policies to enlisted service members worldwide.

Sayers came to the post from the Bureau of Naval Personnel, where she served since September 1994 as assistant enlisted community manager for hospital corpsmen, dental technicians and drug and alcohol program counselors.

A native of Waynesville, N.C., Sayers joined the Navy in 1975. Her assignments have included tours with the Fleet Marine Force, Naval Reserve and Bureau of Naval Personnel.

In 1989, she transferred to the reserve to attend the University of North Carolina. Desert Shield and Desert Storm interrupted her studies, when she was recalled to active duty in 1990 as the leading chief petty officer of patient administration at the Charleston, S.C., naval hospital. Released in August 1991, she returned home to continue her studies.

In October 1993, Sayers was hired under civil service as a health benefits adviser for the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va. In September 1994, she re-enlisted in the regular Navy and moved to Washington.

"[Sayers's] breadth of experience in Navy medicine has prepared her well for this new position," Joseph said, "and I am confident she will be a valuable addition to our health affairs staff."

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