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LANDSTUHL, Germany — The Department of Defense’s top health official said Thursday that medical services for injured troops and health benefits for National Guardsmen and reservists will improve through new programs being implemented.

Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said a new patient tracking program and extended eligibility for Guardsmen in the military’s health-care system are two recent efforts to create better managed care for U.S. servicemembers.

Winkenwerder was referring to the recently adopted, Web-based Joint Patient Tracking Application and recent changes to Tricare, the military health-care infrastructure overseen by his office.

The assistant secretary spoke to media Thursday at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center as part of a series of stops in Germany to talk about DOD initiatives in everything from African AIDS relief to expanded maternity and child-care programs for overseas military families.

He is on his way to Afghanistan, where he will visit troops and meet with Afghan officials about joint U.S.-Afghanistan health projects.

At Landstuhl, Winkenwerder greeted wounded troops arriving by plane at the hospital, and received briefings from local commanders and medical personnel.

Earlier stops on his Germany tour included a visit to U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuttgart to discuss AIDS prevention and education initiatives in northern Africa with commanders, and an appearance at the EUCOM Quality of Life Conference in Garmisch.

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