SAN ANTONIO - Opening her remarks at the Association of the United States Army quarterly luncheon May 31, Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command and Army Surgeon General made note of the Army’s 237th birthday, June 14.
“Since 1775, Army Medicine has been there,” she said. “In every conflict the U.S. Army has fought, Army Medicine stood shoulder to shoulder with our fighting forces in the deployed environment and received them here at home when they returned.”
Shortly after establishing the Continental Army, Gen. George Washington directed the appointment of an Apothecary General during the Revolutionary War. The U.S. Army Medical Department was formed on July 27, 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized a medical service for an Army of 20,000 men.
“We must also remember that woven into that celebrated fabric is the history of Army Medicine. I am so proud of the soldiers of Army Medicine and their phenomenal accomplishments,” she added.
Horoho described risks to readiness. “Sleep is one of the big three, the other two being nutrition and exercise,” she said.
She noted that during World War II, at least 40 percent of potential military recruits were undernourished. But today, the military has the opposite problem. A growing number of potential recruits are too overweight to fight.
“More than 9 million Americans of prime recruiting age are too heavy to join,” the general said. “Only one in four young adults between the ages of 17 and 24 is eligible for military service.”
Sleep is important she said. One third of an individual’s life is sleep and needs to be more than six hours per night. Sleep is also critical to maintaining a healthy weight.
Horoho emphasized the health of the nation and the health of the military are not separate. “Army Medicine cannot overlook the issues that slowly threaten the health of our population,” she said.
Horoho noted that there are 525,600 minutes in the year of a life of a soldier or family member, which she called “LifeSpace.” During this period, the average soldier or family member spends 100 minutes in hospitals and clinics – on average at five 20-minute appointments.
“In order for us to get to health, we must empower the population we serve, move beyond the 100 minutes, and influence behaviors in the LifeSpace” she said, “to move forward from a healthcare system to a system of health.
“If we want to move from healthcare to health, we need to influence the 99.98 percent of our soldiers, retirees and family members’ lives outside our clinics” she emphasized.