Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), has established the Deployment Health Support Directorate as a permanent organization and appointed Ellen P. Embrey, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense (Force Health Protection and Readiness), as its director.
"My pledge of health protection for U.S. forces is unequivocal," Winkenwerder said. "We will build on the lessons of the past and maximally utilize the resources of the Deployment Health Support Directorate, under the direction of Ellen Embrey, to achieve this essential mission." As director, Embrey will ensure the unity and effectiveness of the Defense Department's efforts to protect the health of deployed forces, Winkenwerder said.
The new directorate will build upon the considerable achievements of its predecessor organization, the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, Medical Readiness and Military Deployments. Dr. Michael Kilpatrick has been interim director of that office and will continue to play a critical role in leading these efforts within the new directorate.
The Deployment Health Support Directorate is charged with understanding how the Department of Defense can best support the health and medical needs of our warfighters before, during and after military deployments. The directorate will focus on several measures DoD can take to better protect the health of deployed forces, including accurate record keeping, preventive health and research.
Through open lines of communication between DoD and servicemembers, veterans and their families, the directorate serves as a conduit for contributions to deployment health policies and practices and as a bridge from the experiences of the past to the battlefields of the future. In particular, the directorate will continue its efforts to fully understand the health experiences reported by Gulf War veterans.
"Protecting the health of deployed military personnel is a paramount concern of the Department of Defense," Embrey said. "We must do everything possible to continue to improve the protection of U.S. forces in all deployments."