More than 363 Military Health Care Providers Graduate on Armed Forces Day

Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland Delivers Commencement Address

Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland addressed more than 360 uniformed and civilian health professionals on May 20 as the guest speaker of USU's commencement ceremony. (Photo credit: Tom Balfour, USU)
Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland addressed more than 360 uniformed and
civilian health professionals on May 20 as the guest speaker of USU's commencement ceremony. (Photo credit:
Tom Balfour, USU)

May 23, 2023 by Sarah Marshall

During a ceremony steeped in tradition, the director of the Defense Health Agency, Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland, addressed more than 360 uniformed and civilian health professionals on May 20, Armed Forces Day, as they received their medical, graduate nursing, biomedical science, public health, and clinical psychology degrees from the Uniformed Services University (USU).

Crosland, a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health degree graduate of USU, is responsible for leading a joint, integrated Combat Support Agency of nearly 140,000 military and civilian personnel that enables the Army, Navy, and Air Force medical services to provide a medically-ready force to Combatant Commands in times of both peace and war. Throughout her career, she has served in a number of leadership roles, including Senior Medical Officer for the Office of the Surgeon General, Commanding General of the Regional Health Command-Atlantic, and most recently as the U.S. Army’s Deputy Surgeon General and Deputy Commanding General (Operations) of the Army Medical Command. Crosland is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, USU, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. She earned a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University Eisenhower School. 

Crosland congratulated the students on their momentous day, recognizing their determination, grit, and passion for excellence and service that brought them to this ceremony. She reflected on her own graduation from USU, which she said she spent mostly in a 'state of shock and euphoria.' She went on to reflect upon the meaning of the graduates’ work as they begin their journey as healthcare professionals and public servants, and the importance of the time they will spend in the world.

More than 360 uniformed and civilian health professionals graduated from USU on May 20. (Photo credit: Tom Balfour, USU)
More than 360 uniformed and civilian health professionals graduated from USU on May 20. (Photo credit:
Tom Balfour, USU)

“I emphasized the word time because I want to talk about time, and how you spend it in the coming years,” Crosland said. She then quoted a poem by Linda Ellis called “The Dash.” The “dash” is the simple icon that separates the day someone was born and the day they died. 

“Everything that happens in a person’s life is captured by the dash,” she said. “In our very human lives, the dash is never straight … I’ve learned, with time and through experience, that not all dashes are perfect, and that’s okay. Learning is part of the dash, too. As military or federal medical professionals, you’ve chosen a career that is all about the dash. Not just your own dash, but the dash of everyone you touch. Whether you are a physician, a dentist, a nurse, a health educator, a mental health professional or a health policy expert, you are touching the lives of others in ways that are deeply profound and memorable.”

Crosland encouraged the graduates to not miss out on the remarkable moments disguised at times as a “normal day,” since those moments are “part of your dash,” she explained. 

“As you embark on this new phase of your career, hold on to those things that attracted you to be in the health profession,” she added. “The opportunity to serve others … the chance to save others … We need to become experts and leaders in this emerging field, and you are among the most prepared people on the planet to operate in this complex environment.”

Also during the ceremony, which took place at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Fauci accepted the honor to a rousing applause and cheers from the audience.

Former director of the NIAID, Dr. Anthony Fauci, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from USU on May 20, during the University's commencement ceremony. (Photo credit: Tom Balfour, USU)
Former director of the NIAID, Dr. Anthony Fauci, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from USU
on May 20, during the University's commencement ceremony. (Photo credit: Tom Balfour, USU)

The USU graduates were a mix of military and civilian students. The uniformed students were active duty officers in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Public Health Service, and for the first time ever, Coast Guard. Military medical students walked across the stage wearing their academic regalia, and after receiving their diplomas, they left the stage and changed into their military uniforms. They returned to recite their respective Service commissioning oath, led individually by each service Surgeon General or his/her representative, and will then be promoted to the next rank. 

Graduates from USU’s F. Edward H├ębert School of Medicine included 165 Doctor of Medicine degrees, 55 master’s degrees in biomedical sciences and public health, 20 Doctor of Philosophy degrees, and one Doctor of Public Health degree. USU’s Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing conferred 50 Doctor of Nursing Practices degrees, and two Master of Science in Nursing degrees. USU’s Postgraduate Dental College conferred 71 Master of Science in Oral Biology degrees. In a separate ceremony to be held in the near future, USU’s College of Allied Health Sciences will confer 763 Associate of Science in Health Sciences degrees and 148 Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degrees to enlisted military service members.