President Donald Trump announced on Twitter on Wednesday that Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson will serve as the head of the Department of Veteran Affairs, replacing the current secretary of the department, David Shulkin.
Jackson had previously gained national attention when he gave his report on Trump’s physical at a press conference in January, wearing a slick military suit displaying his various honours.
Trump’s measurements and overall good health that Jackson reported were called into question in the media and on Twitter, where celebrities and journalists alike claimed he had given a low-ball measurement of the president’s weight, giving birth to the “Girther Movement” conspiracy. Others, like CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, claimed the numbers Jackson reported indicated that Trump had heart disease.
But Jackson has served in the White House for 12 years – personally caring for three presidents – and many former White House officials have lined up to defend his credibility.
Jackson’s history as a combat doctor and experience working with soldiers is likely to serve him well in his new position, which be only the latest prominent role he has filled since he first started serving the country in the military.
Here is a rundown of his impressive and varied career:
Jackson was born in Levelland, Texas in 1967. He studied Marine Biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston before graduating from medical school at University of Texas Medical Branch in 1995.
Source: US Navy
Jackson led an impressive career in the US Navy, gaining highly specialised skills in submarine medicine. He served for years in states from Florida to Hawaii, and trained to defuse bombs as part of an Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit in Sicily, Italy.
A few years after finishing his medical studies in 2001, Jackson was deployed to Iraq to serve as the Emergency Medicine Physician in the US Marine Corps. In 2006, he was chosen to be one of the White House physicians for former President George W. Bush.
Jackson examined Bush throughout the second term of his presidency, and went on to examine former President Barack Obama after being formally named physician to the president in 2013.
Jackson’s final examination of Obama occurred in February 2016, when he wrote a two-page memo that read a lot like his report on Trump this week. It went over Obama’s measurements, his body mass index, and noted his “healthy lifestyle choices.”
Source: Obama White House
In fact, Obama officials have lined up to defend Jackson as he faced criticism in the wake of his report on Trump’s health. “Dr. Jackson is a phenomenal doctor and a really great guy,” tweeted Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Obama.
Source: Business Insider
Serving in the Trump White House, January’s physical evaluation was the first public work Jackson has done on the president himself.
Source: New York Times
As Shulkin’s newly minted replacement, Jackson will embark on an entirely new position as an administrator in the executive branch, which will surely bring him new and unexpected challenges.
Only time will tell how Jackson will transition into his new role.
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