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Program Manager Continues Serving Military Members, Families, After Almost 40 Years

Image of Program Manager Continues Serving Military Members, Families, After Almost 40 Years. Retired U.S. Navy Corpsman continues to serve military members and their families across the Military Health System as a program manager for Surgical Services Clinical Community, Surgical Clinical Management. (U.S. Army photo by Robbie Hammer, Defense Health Agency)

For almost four decades, Dave Salazar has served military service members, their families, and the nation. His story of service began in 1983 as a young U.S. Navy Corpsman. In 2024, he is the program manager for Surgical Services Clinical Community, Surgical Clinical Management Team at DHA.

Salazar is one of many in his family who have taken the oath of service and put on the uniform. Eight of his family members have served their country, in the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Army. His father, Frank Salazar, enlisted in the U.S. Army. His brother and sister followed in his footsteps. Of his mother, Maria’s five brothers, three served in the U.S. Navy and another in the U.S. Army.

His only child, Chase, was the last of the Salazar family who wore a service uniform. He left the U.S. Navy in 2015 after serving as a submariner on the USS Michigan and USS Pennsylvania.

Salazar said that he has enjoyed supporting all the military services throughout the years and providing gains for our patients, clinicians, and support staff.

“My passion for medicine and the military, both have a common goal of providing service to beneficiaries and the country,” said Salazar who came to DHA in 2019 as the program manager for the Surgical Services Clinical Community, Surgical Clinical Management Team. “This is what keeps me coming back every day.” He was also the acting chief for the Surgical Clinical Management Team until July 2023.

Salazar works with clinical support, specialty care, clinical quality management, health care operations, medical logistics, publications, clinical communities, and clinical management teams across the Military Health System by writing and reviewing administrative instructions, or policies, on clinical actions within surgical environments to include primary operating rooms, sterile processing, surgical clinics, patient safety, and infection control.

“The Navy provided me so much when I was active duty serving stateside, overseas, and when deployed,” said the El Paso, Texas, native. “My training, skills, and experience grew every year at every location—I truly believe I could never have obtained in the civilian sector.”

During Operation Desert Storm, he treated wounded and injured sailors and Marines while deployed in the Mediterranean Sea on the hospital ship, USNS Mercy in 1991. Two years later, he was in a very different climate supporting Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica for a six-month deployment.

Salazar’s last active duty assignment was at the Naval School of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, at the National Naval Medical Center, now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as a surgical instructor.

After his retirement in 1999, he went home to El Paso, Texas, and worked at a civilian hospital as the coordinator of sterile processing. In 2000, Salazar passed the National Board Exam for Certified Surgical First Assistants earning a state license to practice. For the next three years, he was a freelance surgical first assistant before joining a private neurosurgery practice.

For Salazar, it was time to come back to federal service, an environment he was familiar with and giving him the opportunity to take care of service members, retirees, and their families. He joined the medical team at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss in El Paso, in the Biological Research Service specializing in surgery.

Before joining the Defense Health Agency in 2019, Salazar continued to serve the Fort Bliss community in a variety of positions with growing scope and responsibility before joining the U.S. Army Medical Command in the program analysis and evaluation department within the program and budget division.

Salazar understands the value of continuing his professional growth through training and education opportunities available at DHA and enjoys sharing newly gained knowledge with his teammates.

“Educating new staff members to the surgical program management team, explaining the nuances of the mission, and ensuring they understand what goes into working a functional and efficient program are part of my responsibilities,” he said. “I want them to get excited about what we do here at DHA and how the surgical program impacts the DHA mission, and more importantly, improves the quality of care provided by medical teams to our patients.”

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Last Updated: April 30, 2024
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