Getting Things Done in Military Medicine

How to get things done in military medicine, and how to carry that skill into every area of life. 

Like everything in government, military medicine is a vast bureaucracy. As such, military medicine is inherently resistant to change; sometimes it seems that people work four times as hard to get one-fourth of the work done. Nonetheless good people do good things every day, and slowly the prow of this lumbering battleship gets pointed in the right direction. I have spent over 23 years in military medicine, including 18 months as a liaison in Washington at the Department of Health and Human Services, and have learned a few things along the way. This paper is intended to help my staff, others currently in military medicine, and perhaps even those after us, get good things done in the US military health system.

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Communication in and between Military Organizations

It is easier to talk, and harder to communicate, than we realize. Here are a few tips in the military medical setting. 

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, wrote in his Mission Command White Paper (3 April 12) “In the Joint Force 2020, operations will move at the speed of trust.” Good communication is one of the most important ways that people and organizations build trust. My purpose in this paper is to provide guidelines to help military medicine better communicate and improve trust.

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Useful Quotations on Fame, Glory and Honor

Pithy Prose for Politicians, Preachers, Professors, Pundits, and Public Speakers.

John 8:54 – Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’;

John 7:18 – “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Proverbs 27:2 – Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.

“Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in knowing you have earned them.” Aristotle

“Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.” Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

“No amount of ability is of the slightest avail without honor.” Andrew Carnegie

“After I’m dead I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.” Cato the Elder (234-149 BC, AKA Marcus Porcius Cato)

“Honor is better than honors.” Flemish Proverb

“Visibility can be the easiest path to credibility.” MDH

“Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all you’ve got.” Janis Joplin

“We laugh at honor, and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” C.S. Lewis

“His cardinal mistake is that he isolates himself and allows nobody to see him; and by which he does not know what is going on in the very matter he is dealing with.” Abraham Lincoln, 9 September 1861

To make judgements about great and high things, a soul of the same stature is needed; otherwise we ascribe them to that vice which is our own. Montaigne (1533-1592, French writer)

“Rather fail with honor than to succeed by fraud.” Sophocles

“It is better to deserve honors and not receive them than to receive them and not deserve them.” Mark Twain