Nurse Takes Command as Army Surgeon General

Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho became the 43rd surgeon general in the 236-year history of Army medicine on Dec. 9.

Army Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho became the first woman and also the first nurse to serve as U.S. Army surgeon general, which is the most senior post in the Army Medical Department, during a Dec. 5 change-of-command ceremony at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Sandra Lea Abrams reported on Health.mil Dec. 9.

The report said Horoho is the 43rd Army surgeon general and is the top medical adviser to the secretary of the Army on all Army health care matters. She succeeded Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric B. Schoomaker, who is retiring after 32 years of service.

"It is my great privilege and honor to stand before you as the commanding general of the fifth-largest health care organization in the United States, the United States Army Medical Command," she said, according to the report. It said Schoomaker said the ceremony "demonstrates that the Army greatly values and actively seeks strength through diversity as we transition to the first non-physician surgeon general and first female surgeon general and non-interim commander of the Army Medical Command. I have never felt greater trust than I do now that Army medicine will continue to evolve to meet the needs of soldiers, families, and beneficiaries under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Horoho -- soon-to-be Lt. Gen. Patty Horoho," he said.

That promotion from major general to lieutenant general took place two days later. Abrams' report said Horoho spoke about the future of Army medicine: "One of Army medicine's greatest challenges over the next three to five years is managing the escalating cost of providing world-class health care in a fiscally constraint environment. I see these challenges as windows of opportunity for us to shape the future of Army medicine. And I am confident regardless of the environment; we will meet all challenges in true Army medicine fashion with innovation, dignity and strength; we will usher in a new era of possibilities." The report said the command has an annual budget of more than $12 billion that includes 480 facilities and some 140,000 military and civilian employees.

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