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As both a federal organization and academic center at the Uniformed Services University, the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH or National Center) is a unique institution in government. Established in 2008 to advance the Nation’s medical and public health readiness for disasters, NCDMPH is governed today as a collaboration across the Departments of Defense (DoD), Health and Human Services (HHS), State (DOS), Homeland Security (DHS), Transportation (DoT), and Veterans Affairs (VA).

It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to lead an organization as uniquely positioned as the National Center, and it’s as important today as it was in 2008 that the leadership of the National Center recognize that we are first and foremost a service and support entity. To use a medical analogy, we are not the surgeon and we are not the scalpel. Our colleagues at ASPR, FEMA, CDC, DHA, VHA, the Combatant Commands, and the many others in government with operational responsibilities in disasters, they are the surgeons, so to speak. They are the ones ultimately responsible for leading the critically important medical and public health missions our Nation must routinely face. Our role at the National Center is to serve their needs and support their requirements. Sticking with the analogy, our job is to help the surgeon and to improve the scalpel, but we must do so with humility and with the direct guidance and partnership of our exceptionally dedicated federal colleagues.

We must also acknowledge that while we were established to be a national center of excellence for disaster medicine and public health, there are many centers of excellence throughout our Nation with incredible depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise, all of which are essential to protecting the health and well-being of the American people. It is with this understanding that our center has chosen a partnership approach to serving the Nation. Rather than seeking to build excellence within our own walls, we have chosen to focus our attention on building a national ecosystem comprised of the leading institutions across the country that have demonstrated excellence in disaster medicine and public health. It is through this ecosystem that our center serves to mobilize excellence at the behest of the federal interagency, and we aim to do so at the speed of response.

Under the guidance of our federal interagency colleagues and with our ecosystem partners throughout the Nation, we are well positioned to advance science, operations, and education in disaster medicine and public health. To help the Nation be successful when disaster strikes, we must remain ready to learn and bring resilience and optimism to all our work. We are extremely lucky to serve in this role for the Nation. We do not take it lightly.

Very Respectfully,

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Jeffrey D. Freeman, PhD, MPH Director | Special Assistant to the President
National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences