Strategy Overview

Strategy Overview

Organization of the Military Health System

The Military Health System (MHS) supports the military mission of fostering, protecting, sustaining and restoring the health of service members and their families. It serves approximately 9.6 million beneficiaries around the world including active-duty personnel, retirees, survivors and their dependents. Components of the system include Army, Air Force and Navy military treatment facilities (MTFs) and the TRICARE program, which offers both managed-care and fee-for-service options. Care provided across the MHS is led by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (ASD(HA)) and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)).

In the MHS, the MTFs are run by the service-level military commands and therefore, the services staff, train and equip the commands to meet mission requirements[1]. TRICARE managed-care providers include providers at the MTFs and a network of civilian providers administered through regional contracts with civilian managed-care organizations. The fee-for-service option also covers care provided by civilian providers who have not joined the network. The Defense Health Agency is charged with managing TRICARE and the shared services, functions and activities of the MHS. It also exercises authority over the National Capital Region (NCR) Medical Directorate which includes Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, and several other locations in the NCR.

The integrated system includes (approximately):

  • 9.6 million beneficiaries
  • 600+ MTFs, including 50+ hospitals, 360+ medical clinics, and 280+ dental clinics
  • 380,000 TRICARE network providers
  • An education and training system comprising an accredited medical school, graduate programs, and enlisted and officer training platforms
  • Comprehensive, cutting-edge medical research programs[2]

The MHS includes more than just health care delivery. It also includes medical education, public heath, private sector partnerships, and medical research and development. More information about the MHS’s role in each of these areas can be found on the MHS website.


[1] Military Health System Review-Final Report (2014), p. 25

[2] The Defense Health Agency: Reflections on Our First Year and Future. (2014) Retrieved from