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Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) is committed to being the Department of Defense’s (DoD's) leader in providing medical-legal services and emerging technologies essential for the readiness, sustainability and survivability of our service members. AFMES provides the DoD and other federal agencies comprehensive forensic investigative services, to include forensic pathology, DNA Forensics, forensic toxicology, and medical mortality surveillance. AFMES is not only the single worldwide medical examiner system, but it also supports the entire U.S. federal government.

Official seal of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner SystemMission 

Investigate deaths, Identify the fallen, Improve readiness

Vision 

Be the global leader in comprehensive and innovative medicolegal services enhancing the readiness, sustainability, and survivability of those we serve.

AFMES Fact Sheets

Description File
This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System's Department of Defense DNA Operations AFMES DoD DNA Operations Fact Sheet 2018
This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System's Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory. AFMES DNA FAQs 2018
This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System. AFMES Fact Sheet 2018

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DoD adds fentanyl to drug testing panel

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11/22/2019
An Airman from the 436th Air Wing inspects a bottle before being asked to provide a urine sample November 8, 2019. The DoD has a zero tolerance policy for the illegal or improper use of drugs by service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Fentanyl is an opioid, similar to heroin

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Folklore vampire possibly identified

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8/12/2019
Dr. Kristen E. Pearlstein, Collections Manager, National Museum of Health and Medicine displays remains of “JB-55” during a Science Café at the museum, Silver Spring, Maryland. “JB-55” remains were that of a suspected “vampire” in the mid-1800s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

According to legend, residents of Jewett City, Connecticut, were being terrorized by recently deceased vampires

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Colony Glacier: Joint team unearths lost service members

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7/17/2019
Recovery team members traverse Colony Glacier, Alaska, June 2019. The recovery team was searching for remains from a C-124 Globemaster II that crashed into Gannett Mountain, Alaska, on Nov. 22, 1952, while flying from McChord Air Force Base, Washington, to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska resulting in the loss of 52 service members. (Courtesy photo)

This is part one of a two-part series on the Colony Glacier recovery efforts

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Histology: Where art and science merge

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6/13/2019
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler Wiedmeyer, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System histotechnichian, looks at slides of tissues under a microscope before handing them off to a medical examiner June 6, 2019. The stained tissues help medical examiners see down to the cellular level for a diagnosis of cause of death. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Without a histotechnician, tissue processing would take much longer to be completed

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AFMES celebrates lab week

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5/8/2019
The purpose of lab week is to increase public awareness of the importance of laboratory professionals and their role in clinical diagnostics and medicine. The exceptional efforts and behind-the-scenes work of laboratories is essential to protecting public health. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

AFMES celebrated its lab week by embracing science and lab techs

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Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

Dignity, reverence, respect: The mortuary affairs specialist

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4/18/2019
Army Cpl. Daveson Tamanyon, 54th Quartermaster Company mortuary affairs specialist, lays out a U.S. Army uniform during a training exercise at the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Soldiers in this career field perform duties related to deceased personnel, including searching for fallen and missing service members, helping to disinter remains and assist in the preparation and preservation of remains. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Soldiers in this career field perform duties related to deceased personnel

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AFMES, DPAA shares missions with service members, families

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2/6/2019
Todd Livick, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Outreach and Communications director, speaks to U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape instructors about the DPAA mission at the U.S. Army S.E.R.E. school, Fort Rucker, Alabama. The DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System provided information on their respective missions and held question and answer session with the Soldiers to provide a better understanding about the two agencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

They’re all here for the same reason; to bring their loved one home

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Positive identification is assured

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11/21/2018
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ricky Penuelaz, 59th Medical Wing lab technician, uses a pipette to put blood on an Air Force trainee’s DNA card. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System-Armed Forces Repository of Specimen Samples of the Identification of Remains inspected Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, on the collection of DNA cards. AFMES-AFRSSIR is responsible for managing, coordinating and maintaining the collection of DNA blood reference cards for all active duty, reserve, and National Guard service members. This is done when service members first enter the military and is collected at one of nine basic training sites, dependent on their branch of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

The goal of the DNA cards is to never have an ‘unknown soldier’ or unknown military member ever again

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AFMES participates in 'Safe and Sound' week

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8/27/2018
Air Force Tech Sgt. Aisuluu Alford (left) and Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Tutt, both Armed Forces Medical Examiner System forensic toxicology laboratory technicians, grab supplies out of the Shelter-In-Place Kit during a Shelter-In-Place exercise. The exercise was part of Safe and Sound week where AFMES personnel were able to engage in different safety activities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Safe and Sound Week is a nationwide campaign to raise awareness and understanding of safety and health programs within the workplace

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AFMES DoD DNA Lab receives perfect score

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8/6/2018
Sean Patterson, quality management section DNA analyst, checks expiration dates on reagents in the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System – Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory. AFDIL recently underwent a quality assessment where they received zero findings of nonconformance for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

This was the first time AFDIL has received zero findings during a quality assessment

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AFMES embraces resiliency

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7/9/2018
Col. Louis Finelli, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System director, talks with AFMES personnel during a resiliency day at Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del., May 24, 2018. Finelli talked about the importance of coming together as a family to be able to destress and be more resilient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

AFMES town hall focused on workplace and summer safety, security awareness and resiliency

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AFMES DNA lab helps identify the fallen of past conflicts

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5/30/2018
Gina Parada, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System DNA analyst, collects a DNA sample during a POW/MIA Accounting Agency Family Member Update in Louisville, Kentucky. DNA can be used to support anthropology of recovered skeletal remains or be used as primary means of identification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

DNA can be used to support anthropology of recovered skeletal remains or be used as primary means of identification

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AFMES participates in Operation Joint Recovery, introduces MACRMS

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3/20/2018
U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Platt (right), Armed Forces Medical Examiner System forensic pathologist, demonstrates an examination at a simulated Mortuary Affairs Contaminated Remains Mitigation Site during Operation Joint Recovery exercise at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Mar. 10, 2018. Platt familiarized participants in recovery and processing of contaminated remains. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

AFMES primary role in the exercise was to familiarize participants in contaminated remains recovery

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DPAA accounts for 183 missing service members in fiscal year 2017

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10/27/2017
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency conducts a ceremony for POW/MIA Recognition Day at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, Sept. 15, 2017. POW/MIA Recognition Day, first established in 1979 through a proclamation from President Jimmy Carter, is an observance to honor and recognize the sacrifices of those Americans who have been prisoners of war and to remind the Nation of those who are still missing in action. Today, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is conducting worldwide operations to provide the fullest possible accounting for those classified as still missing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Bruch)

DPAA works closely with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, part of the Research and Development Directorate of the Military Health System

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