How do you explain to the nation the need for
a military health care system?
FAISON: As you know, less than 1 percent of our
nation has ever served in uniform, and when it comes
to medical, because of that, many of them don’t
understand why we have a military health system.
There is a very real temptation to look at military
health care through a civilian peacetime lens.
I testify to Congress about military health care on a
fairly regular basis. Last year, before I testified, a per-
son from a local think tank said we ought to get rid of
the military health care system and put all the military
providers in the civilian network and just call them
up when we need them because that is what some of
our allies do. I said, “There are very few countries that
maintain standing medical forces that can get out the
door quickly. We have to be ready to fight and take
care of casualties tonight. Many of the countries with
whom we partner depend on us to do that. The fami-
lies of casualties tonight also depend on us.”
The nation also gets a lot for that investment, not
only with full-scope combat casualty care. We use that
force for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief
and to enhance and build on partnerships around
the world. We have missions that go out every year
— Continuing Promise in the Caribbean and Pacific
Partnership — that allow us to build partnerships with
other nations in ways that are not possible otherwise.
It also allows us to rehearse disaster response,
especially in the Pacific. Most of the world’s natural
disasters occur in the Pacific. Our nation’s security,
peace and prosperity is dependent on peace and prosperity in the Pacific. A natural disaster can be just as
disruptive as conflict to peace, security and prosperity.
How do you leverage partnerships?
FAISON: We can’t do it alone. So not only do we partner
with institutions for clinical skills, competencies and cur-rencies for trauma and other things, we also partner with
academia for research. We run research labs all around
the world to look at and develop cures and treatments for
not only the diseases and threats to the force of today, but
the diseases and threats to the force of tomorrow.
We have a lab in Asia [where] we just started clinical
trials on a malaria vaccine. Malaria is the No. 1 infectious disease killer in the world right now. The only
prevention is taking medicine every single day. Well, if
you’re a 19-year-old in combat, you’ve got a lot on your
mind, and may not remember to take your medicine.
The best prevention for malaria is a vaccine. We’ve got
a research team that has been partnering with academia
and host nation countries for a number of years.
We’ve also got a team in West Africa that is doing
some of the groundwork to begin developing an Ebola
vaccine as well as a Zika vaccine. We partner with the
Centers for Disease Control and I put a liaison officer there to synchronize our effects on our approach
to Zika so what we provide the Navy and the Marine
Corps not only represents best practice. They can also
take advantage of our skills and expertise. We have a
similar partnership with other federal sectors in the
area of research. The whole area of Wounded Warrior
care has also been a greatly successful partnership.
How is the current generation of personnel
influencing health care?
FAISON: The majority of the people in our Navy and
Marine Corps were born after 1986. This generation is
fundamentally changing how health care is delivered. Our
generation, the baby boomer generation, when seeking
health care or making health care choices, worry about:
Is the guy well-trained? Is it safe? Is it high-quality care?
The millennials assume all those things — they
don’t even enter into their equation. When you go to a
restaurant and you eat the food, you don’t have to see