US Air Force Surgeon General Mark Ediger - Lessons From 32 Years in Public Service

Lieutenant General (Dr.) Mark A. Ediger retired last year after serving as the Surgeon General of the Air Force, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Arlington, Va. General Ediger served as functional manager of the U.S. Air Force Medical Service. In this capacity, he advised the Secretary of the Air Force and Air Force Chief of Staff, as well as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs on matters pertaining to the medical aspects of the air expeditionary force and the health of Air Force people. General Ediger had authority to commit resources worldwide for the Air Force Medical Service, to make decisions affecting the delivery of medical services, and to develop plans, programs and procedures to support worldwide medical service missions. He exercised direction, guidance, and technical management of a $6.1 billion, 44,000-person integrated health care delivery and readiness system serving 2.6 million beneficiaries at 76 military treatment facilities worldwide. Prior to that assignment, General Ediger served as Deputy Surgeon General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Arlington, Va. General Ediger is from Springfield, Missouri. He entered the Air Force in 1985 and has served as the Aerospace Medicine Consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General, commanded two medical groups, and served as command surgeon for three major commands. He deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Southern Watch.  Full bio.


I was so thankful that General Ediger, who retired just last year after 32 years in the military, agreed to be interviewed for the podcast to discuss a distinguished career spanning six administrations. We had a great conversation about everything from combat medicine advancements to tips on leadership, and even some quick advice on staying healthy and fit. His rise to the top of medical leadership in the United States Air Force, from joining as a reservist to eventually becoming the Air Force Surgeon General, was (as he explains) the result of a quest for life-long learning, staying open to new experiences and opportunities, and building strong relationships with solid mentors.

We discussed several important topics during this episode, including:

  • Advancements in combat medicine that he witnessed serving from the Cold War until now

  • The remarkable ways in which the modular and agile USAF expeditionary medical systems (EMEDS) are being used to support special forces missions in the fight against ISIS (as well as to assist civilian populations caught in the crossfire of war and in other humanitarian crises)

  • The role of a flight surgeon in keeping airmen fit and ready for difficult roles, whether as jet fighter pilots or special forces missions

  • The rewarding mindset that comes from focusing on serving others, regardless of occupation

  • Advice for anyone considering a military career

  • His thoughts on what made his own career so rewarding and successful

  • What it’s like to be deployed, and how we can support veterans and their families as they transition back to civilian life

Listen to Stitcher

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Links and More Information on this Topic:

Here are links to a few of the things we discussed:

Here’s a link that will take you to the national website for the BSA Explorers, and you can also find several posts in your own area specializing in medicine, fire, police, and so on.

The Civil Air Patrol (the USAF Auxiliary unit that includes both cadet and senior opportunities for service and exposure to Air Force).

The article on health concerns arising from the youth vaping epidemic: