The system that delivers health care for more than 9 million service members, retirees and their family members has a new director: Army Maj. Gen. Telita Crosland.

She becomes the Defense Health Agency’s fourth director in its nearly 10 years of existence, and the first African American in that position.

Crosland, who will be promoted to lieutenant general Jan. 20, had been serving as the Army’s deputy surgeon general. She is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She’s a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Eisenhower School.

In addition to her doctorate in medicine, she has earned a master’s of public health, and master’s of science in national resource strategy.

Crosland became an Army medical corps officer in 1993, and has served in a variety of leadership positions at military installations, hospitals and clinics.

“General Crosland has shown exactly the kind of perseverance, dedication and excellence that will serve her, and us, so well in her new position,” said acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Seileen Mullen, who presided over the Jan. 3 ceremony at Defense Health Headquarters.

“I’m thankful for this opportunity and grateful to this team, and excited about partnering with our surgeons general, our industry partners and our patients during a dynamic period in health care,” Crosland said.

She is the second soldier to serve in the position in the agency’s nearly 10 years, succeeding Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, who had been director since October 2019. He led the agency through the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the agency was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award for Excellence by the secretary of defense for that work.

During the massive pandemic response, Place also led a congressionally mandated reform effort to transition more than 700 military medical, dental and veterinary facilities from the Army, Navy and Air Force to the DHA umbrella. The goal is for DHA to directly manage all military hospitals and clinics and integrate military health care with the Tricare network of providers.

“Though General Place’s shoes will be hard to fill, I am confident that General Crosland is the woman to do so,” Mullen said.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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