High-ranking leader bringing military medical centers, clinics under one umbrella

SAN ANTONIO – Brooke Army Medical Center will begin to transition to a new system under the Defense Health Agency this fall.

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono was in San Antonio recently to answer questions about what the transition will mean for military personnel. She wanted to assure the personnel that the change should be very transparent to the patients and staff members.

“We're going (to be) able to create that integrated system of readiness and health that's designed around our patients,” Bono said.

In the past, each military branch operated its own medical hospitals and clinics. Moving forward, they will all fall under the Defense Health Agency.

The agency will be responsible for budgetary matters, technology information, administration, policy and management, among other things.

The change will allow military personnel to be able to be familiar with the process, no matter what clinic or hospital in the military they visit.

“No matter where you're stationed, that the way when you get your appointment here in San Antonio is the same as you would get in Fairchild at an Air Force hospital or a naval hospital,” Bono said.

Bono said the process has already been tested in recent combat situations and it works. The military saw the lowest case fatality rate with the highest survivability ever.

“The reason we did so well is that we worked across the services. We had Army and Navy medics at the point of injury, resuscitating the casualty and bringing that casualty to a Navy or an Army facility,” she said.  

The change should be seamless to the patients, but it could result in the elimination of about 17,000 medical military positions, which will be selected by the U.S. Department of Defense. Some positions, Bono said, are positions that are currently not filled and would be eliminated. 

The change would maintain the readiness of the military troops.

Bono said the working relationship that San Antonio’s base has with the surrounding community is a good model she wants to take to other cities.

Bono is one of the highest-ranking women in the military. She grew up in San Antonio after moving from the Philippines in fourth grade. Some of her family members still reside in the area.

About the Author:

Patty Santos

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.