Dr. Rachel Levine makes military history as America’s first openly transgender four-star admiral

U.S. Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine was sworn in as the military’s first openly transgender four-star admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps on Tuesday.

“I am deeply honored & grateful to join the ranks of men & women across this great nation who have committed to defend the United States against small & large threats, known and unknown. I promise to uphold that trust to the fullest extent of my abilities,” Levine tweeted.

“The time is now for our country to continue to move the bar forward for diversity,” Levine proclaimed on Tuesday. “And I am proud to wear this uniform and answer that call.”

The swearing-in makes Levine the highest-ranking official in the commissioned corps. She will lead and be in charge of 6,000 Public Health Service officers and is also the organization’s first female four-star officer. The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps focuses on medical issues.

(Video Credit: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

The 8 branches of the United States Uniformed Services include: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps.

Levine, 63, a former Pennsylvania health secretary and a pediatrician, became America’s highest-ranking openly transgender official in March following her nomination by President Biden for the position of United States assistant secretary for health.

A press release issued by Health and Human Services stated that the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of eight uniformed services “and the only one dedicated solely to protecting, promoting and advancing America’s public health” by providing healthcare to “underserved and vulnerable populations or advancing practice, policy or research.”

The Biden administration and HHS proclaimed that the swearing-in of Levine was a “major step forward” in creating “a more inclusive society.”

“This is a momentous occasion and I am pleased to take this role for the impact I can make, and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes,” Levine said in a speech at her swearing-in ceremony. “I stand on the shoulders of those LGBTQ+ individuals who came before me, both those known and unknown. May this appointment be the first of many like it as we create a more inclusive future.”

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra referred to Levine as a “cherished and critical partner in our work to build a healthier America,” according to Fox News.

Levine stated that she was proud to follow in the footsteps of her father, who served in the Air Force during World War II, and other members of her family who are veterans.

“Just as they stepped up to defend our rights to freedom and liberty, I now follow in their storied tradition of service as I step up to defend the health of our nation,” she asserted.

Levine has been involved in handling the opioid epidemic, maternal mortality, and childhood immunization. She is a graduate of Harvard and Tulane Medical School. She has also written on medical marijuana and pediatric medicine.

During the confirmation process as U.S. assistant secretary for health, Levine faced questions over her handling of the pandemic in nursing homes during her time as health secretary of Pennsylvania.

She was blamed for the deaths of many elderly people concerning the implementation of a state policy that required nursing homes to accept COVID patients.

Shortly after putting that policy into place, Levine admitted that she moved her own mother out of a nursing home as the number of deaths rose.

Many are contending that the latest promotion was strictly a political one. Others are hitting at Levine over the nursing home debacle:


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