Dr. Rachel Levine is making history — again.
She became the first openly transgender four-star officer in the uniformed services on Tuesday when was sworn in as an admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
“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,” Levine tweeted Tuesday morning.
“I promise to uphold that trust to the fullest extent of my abilities,” added Levine, who as the U.S. assistant secretary for health was already the nation’s highest-ranking openly transgender official.
Rachel Levine is a four-star admiral. (Caroline Brehman/)
The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of the nation’s eight uniformed services, though the 6,000-person force is focused on battling health and medical issues.
Levine, 63, was sworn in by Andrea Palm, deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, who noted the “historic step forward” toward equality her appointment symbolizes.
“I’m proud to serve at HSS as history is being made, and to support a more diverse future,” Palm said during the ceremony.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, who served as a witness, said that the force was “extremely proud” to welcome Levine — its first female four-star admiral — into the corps.
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. https://t.co/ryfwRqbAoz
— ADM Rachel Levine (@HHS_ASH) October 19, 2021
Murthy later added that “her appointment represents an important step toward a more inclusive future, and her service will undoubtedly advance the USPHS Commissioned Corps’ mission to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our nation.”
Levine was confirmed as assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services in March — rising to the highest federal post ever occupied by an openly transgender person. Prior to her groundbreaking confirmation, she served as the Pennsylvania health secretary.
“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,” she said. “May this appointment be the first of many like it as we create a more inclusive future.”
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