Government and Regulations

Woodson Steps Down at DoD

The assistant secretary of defense for health affairs oversaw a major overhaul of military medicine during his tenure.


Jonathan Woodson, MD, stepped down as assistant secretary of defense for health affairs on May 1, 2016, a position he had held since December 2010. Under his leadership, the DoD created the Defense Health Agency (DHA), implemented a new electronic medical records system, and led the mission to combat Ebola in West Africa. Karen Guice, MD, MPP, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, takes over Woodson’s duties. A new appointee is not expected until after the November presidential election.

According to the DoD, Woodson is returning to Boston University School of Medicine to establish a health systems innovation and policy institute. The institute will focus on leader development, biotechnology, and system design.

One of Woodson’s signature accomplishments was the creation of the DHA, which brought together the previously independent health care operations of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, each having unique cultures, procedures, and technologies. The underlying DHA goals have been to improve interoperability, efficiency, and cost reduction by sharing services.

The DHA operation is massive and cares for a TRICARE-eligible population of 9.5 million, including 1.4 million service members on active duty and more than 1 million inpatient admissions and 95.6 million outpatient visits in 2014.

“Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your organization for so long. Each of you has made an indelible impact on my life,” Woodson said at a DoD ceremony. “And as we say in the Army, we’ll see you on the high ground.”

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