08_Lieutenant Colonel Donald Donahue

Medical Operations Officer, Office of the Chief, Army Reserve Washington – DC US

Making Ready


For the Army Reserve, readiness is essential. During a 10-week period ending January 31, Lieutenant Colonel Donald Donahue’s Federal Strategic Health Alliance reviewed more than 89,000 medical and dental records, arranged some 46,000 physical and 37,000 dental examinations, and administered more than 100,000 immunizations. Not one soldier who was processed through this system was turned back or delayed for a medical or dental condition.

From Donald’s original entry:

Tell us what you do and the specific challenge you faced.

The military is not a realm known for its creativity or entrepreneurial environment. The Pentagon is even less so. But this is exactly where a single staff officer, working in a relatively obscure office, has been able to create multiple landmark programs that have had an unprecedented impact on the individual and the organizations they serve. From providing medical and dental services, to automating health records, to planning for and training against bioterrorism, Lieutenant Colonel Don Donahue has had an unprecedented impact on the Army Reserve, the greater military community, and on the government agencies and private firms involved in his projects. In the words of Colonel Bill Martin, Director of Reserve Affairs for the Army Surgeon General, “Don has had a greater impact on medical readiness for the Army Reserve than everything that has happened in the Reserve’s 90-plus year history.”


What was your moment of truth?

Faced with an unyielding bureaucracy, Lt. Col. Donahue has been able to discern what is required and, more importantly, the path through the political maze in “The Building” to bring radical new programs to reality. The programs he has created include the the Federal Strategic Health Alliance (FEDS_HEAL), a $100 million medical and dental readiness support system comprised of Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) and provide providers, servicing 1.3 million Reserve Component members; the Joint/Interagency Civil Support Training Center (JISCTC) at Fort Dix, NJ, providing training to DoD and other Federal departments in medical aspects of homeland security and weapons of mass destruction; the Annual Health Certificate Questionnaire/Health Assessment Longitudinal File, an all-services health assessment and data repository supporting DoD and VA medical systems and population health initiatives, the electronic health record program in conjunction with Loma Linda VA Medical Center; the DoD model for medical response to domestic weapons of mass destruction incidents and natural disasters; the Army Reserve Physician Assistant Training Program, and the organizational redesign of Army Reserve medical structure and creation of the 37,000 member Army Reserve Medical Command (AR-MEDCOM).

What were the results?


The results of these programs has been an unprecedented improvement in processes and in compliance. Under one major command, the number of successfully processed physical examinations rose by more than 605 percent in two years. The Air Force has joined and the Navy is considering joining this program that won Al Gore’s hammer Award for Reinventing Government and the VA’s Award for Contracting Excellence and has been recognized in testimony in the house of Representatives. Staff shortages in Physicians Assistants have been eliminated. Significantly, key skills needed to counter the effects of terrorism are now being taught.

What’s your parting tip?

Joseph Campbell said “follow your bliss.” Exercising creativity in unlikely places and being true to yourself–that is the answer.