U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Mandel Ngan/AP

Pentagon Will Review Its Health Care System to Avoid VA’s Mistakes

Defense secretary orders assessment to determine any weaknesses.

The Defense Department will conduct a comprehensive review of its military health system, aiming to identify areas where the department is not meeting a “nationally defined standard” for care.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the review after dismissing the commander of the Womack Army Medical Center on Tuesday, which followed the deaths of two patients in their twenties in the past 10 days. Assistant Defense Secretary for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson will spearhead the review, with results expected in 90 days.

Hagel is meeting Wednesday with Pentagon leaders, including each of the service secretaries, to “discuss the parameters of this review and his expectations for it,” according to Defense Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

“Following the review, the secretary will receive recommendations on areas for improvement with a specific focus on those areas where we are not meeting a nationally defined standard or a DoD policy directed standard,” Kirby said in a statement.

The Pentagon maintains medical centers across the country for active-duty military members and their families, as well as retirees. They operate separate from the Veterans Affairs Department’s network of hospitals, though Kirby said Hagel ordered the review “within the context of what he’s watching at the VA.”

“He doesn’t want to wait for similar allegations to appear with the active military health care system,” Kirby told The Washington Post