Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House Physician to the President, has been selected by Donald Trump to replace outgoing Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin.
“I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs,” Trump tweeted on March 28. Jackson will need to be confirmed by the Senate, and Robert Wilkie of the Department of Defense will serve as the acting secretary until that process is completed.
In January, Jackson briefed the press Tuesday about the results of President Donald Trump’s first physical in office. Jackson said that overall the 71-year-old president is in “excellent health.” You can watch Jackson’s briefing below:
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement from Brigadier General Richard Tubb, who was the physician to President George W. Bush, about Jackson prior to the briefing.
“I hired and trained Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson. My patients, President and Mrs. Bush, knew and trusted him. I think it’s safe to assume that President and Mr. Obama trusted him as well,” Tubb said. “After all, they personally selected him to be their physician. Today, Dr. Jackson will offer his professional assessment of the president’s medical fitness for duty. … Having had the opportunity to review the tests, consult specialists, thoughtfully analyze the results and discuss them with his patient he will provide us with his considered assessment of the president’s medical fitness for duty now and for the remainder of his term of office.
“Knowing Dr. Jackson, I am confident that he practiced good medicine. … In keeping with his oaths, I have every reason to believe that Dr. Jackson will well and faithfully discharge the duties of his office and that President and Mrs. Trump, the office of the presidency and the country will be well served because of it,” Tubb said.
Trump provided a note from his longtime personal physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, in which Bornstein claimed Trump would be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Trump also appeared on the “Dr. Oz” show to discuss his health.
Here’s what you need to know about Dr. Jackson:
1. Jackson Was First Appointed as the Physician to the President by Obama in 2013 & Was Retained by Trump After He Took Office Last Year
Dr. Ronny Jackson has been the Physician to the President since he was appointed to the position by President Barack Obama in 2013, according to his Navy biography. He was retained by President Donald Trump after he took office last year.
Before he became the president’s doctor, Jackson worked as a physician in the White House. He joined the White House staff in 2006 and was the director of executive health care for the president’s cabinet and senior staff and the physician supervisor for the Camp David Presidential Retreat before taking on the top role.
In his job as the Physician to the President, Jackson also oversees the White House Medical Unit as its director. The medical unit treats staff and guests of the White House who have medical issues while at the White House. In 2016, during President Obama’s end-of-year press conference, a journalist fell ill and Obama summoned Jackson to help him. You can watch video of that moment above.
Jackson performed four physical examinations of Obama. You can read the results he presented after his final physical in office here.
“The purpose of this exam was to provide the public with an update of the President’s current health status and to ensure the President continues to enjoy all the benefits of good health,” Jackson wrote. “This examination focused on evidence-based health screening and disease prevention.”
2. The White House Spelled His Name Wrong in the Statement to the Press About Trump’s Physical
The White House generated some controversy when it spelled Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson’s name wrong (using Ronnie, instead of Ronny), in a press release issued Friday after Trump completed his physical exam.
In the statement, attributed to Dr. Ronnie Jackson, the physician, “The President’s physical exam today at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center went exceptionally well. The President is in excellent health and I look forward to briefing some of the details on Tuesday.”
The exam came after several doctors sent a letter to Jackson urging them to include a mental health examination in Trump’s physical.
“Without performing an evaluation of this kind, President Trump would be receiving care that is inadequate to the standard care regularly administered to millions of Americans covered by Medicare,” the letter stated. “Equally important, without this evaluation, the American people will not have a clear understanding about the health and well-being of the President, which is essential for Americans to know of any president.”
The White House, which said Trump would not undergo a psychological exam, has called the questions being raised about Trump’s mental fitness “disgraceful and laughable,” and Trump himself tweeted that he is a “very stable genius.”
3. Jackson Is a Texas Native Who Studied Marine Biology at Texas A&M Before Getting His Medical Degree at the University of Texas Medical Branch
Ronny Jackson was born in Levelland, Texas, according to his U.S. Navy biography. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 1991 with a degree in marine biology. He then went on to medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch and graduated from there in 1995.
“Jackson is a board certified diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and is designated as a fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. He currently holds faculty clinical appointments with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences,” according to the biography.
Jackson joined the U.S. Navy after medical school.
While the president is allowed to choose his own doctor, the position of Physician to the President has traditionally been held by a member of the military, according to Stat News. Some presidents, like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, have chosen non-uniformed physicians.
“The president’s physician follows him around domestically and overseas, always at hand in case medical expertise is needed,” according to Stat.
4. He Began His Active Duty Service in the Navy After Graduating From Medical School & Was Deployed to Iraq in 2005 as an Emergency Medicine Physician
Jackson began his active duty service in the U.S. Navy in 1995 after completing medical school, according to his bio. He was first stationed at the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Virginia, where he completed his internship in transitional medicine.
Jackson then completed his first year of residency training in 1996 and “he went on to become the honor graduate of the Navy’s Undersea Medical Officer Program in Groton, Connecticut,” according to his bio.
“Uniquely qualified in submarine and hyperbaric medicine, his subsequent operational assignments included, instructor at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida; det. officer in charge and diving medical officer at Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 8 in Sigonella, Italy; and diving safety officer at the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk,” the Navy says.
Jackson returned to Portsmouth in 2001 to begin his residency in emergency medicine, “finishing at the top of his class and receiving the honor graduate designation.” In 2004, Jackson was assigned as clinical faculty in the Emergency Medicine Reisdency Program at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth.
Jackson joined the 2nd Marines, Combat Logistic Regiment 25 at Camp Lejuene in North Carolina in 2005.
“From there he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as the emergency medicine physician in charge of resuscitative medicine for a forward deployed Surgical Shock Trauma Platoon in Taqaddum, Iraq,” the Navy says. “His awards include, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards), as well as other individual, unit and campaign awards. He is also designated as a diving and undersea medical officer, naval parachutist, Fleet Marine Force Warfare qualified officer, and submarine warfare qualified medical officer.”
5. Jackson, Who Lives in Maryland With His Wife & 3 Kids, Is a Member of the BIDMC Fellowship in Disaster Medicine at Harvard
Dr. Ronny Jackson lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Jane, and their three children, Libby, Ben and Matthew.
Along with his work in the White House, Jackson is also a disaster medicine fellow at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard’s teaching hospital, as an adjunct faculty member, according to BIDMC. He took on that role in 2015.
“Dr Jackson brings a wealth of experience in VIP and Protective Medicine. We are honored to have him and look forward to his participation in the fellowship and our White House Medical Unit rotations,” BIDMC said in a press release.