Rear Admiral Elaine Wagner grew up in southern Indiana and attended Butler University (B.A., 1976) and Indiana University School of Dentistry (D.D.S., 1980). She completed her Pediatric Dentistry residency at Riley Children's Hospital, Indianapolis in 1982. She was commissioned and reported to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, 29 Palms, California, in December 1983. In July 1987, she became the Pediatric Dentistry department head at the 32nd Street Dental Clinic, San Diego.
She has served as clinic director, Branch Dental Clinic, Washington Navy Yard and director of Surgical Services and director of Women's, Children's and Community Health at National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Wagner's next assignment was as the executive officer at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida, followed by her first tour as commanding officer, Naval Hospital Beaufort, South Carolina, in 2006. In 2008, she reported as commanding officer, Expeditionary Medical Facility Kuwait and, in 2009, commanding officer of Naval Health Care New England. In August 2010, she assumed the duties as the director, Medical Resources Plans and Policy Division, OPNAV code N931and chief, Navy Dental Corps. From September 2011 to April 2014, she served as the commander of Navy Medicine East and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, and as Director of the Tidewater enhanced Multi-Service Market. Wagner currently serves as Deputy Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Wounded, Ill and Injured.