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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343


STATEMENT BY HHS SECRETARY TOMMY G. THOMPSON
ON THE PRESIDENT'S INTENTION TO NOMINATE
RICHARD H. CARMONA, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, TO BE THE SURGEON GENERAL


The public health challenges facing Americans are more diverse and wide-ranging than any time in our history, from growing concerns about the health and fitness of Americans to the new threats from bioterrorism.

Dr. Richard Carmona is a dynamic leader with a remarkable background who can help lead America through the wide-range of medical and health challenges they face in their everyday lives. His diverse experiences also make him uniquely qualified for the position.

At a time when our country faces a new public health threat from bioterrorism, we need a Surgeon General who understands this threat and can provide strong leadership to the nation. Dr. Carmona will provide such leadership. As a medical school professor at the University Arizona, he was responsible for developing and implementing the weapons of mass destruction, anti-terrorism, preparedness and consequences management plans for the university and community at large. He knows the challenges that not only our nation faces in preparing for bioterrorism but that our communities face.

The Surgeon General is one of our nation's chief spokespersons on matters of public health and medicine, and serves as special advisor to the President and HHS Secretary, the Congress and the general population on hazards to health, disease prevention and health promotion, based on the best available scientific evidence. Dr. Carmona meets the high standards we hold for this position having served as a trained trauma surgeon, public health officer, physician executive and police officer. His record of achievement demonstrates that he knows and understands how to bring people together for a common cause and can speak to people whether in the boardroom, at the kitchen table or on the street corner. He understands the everyday health concerns and challenges facing the everyday person.

Dr. Carmona has dedicated himself to serving his patients, community and country in ways that few can match. He first served our country as a Special Forces medic in Vietnam, receiving the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a Combat Medical Badge. But his service did not end there, nor did it shrink in impact. Upon earning a GED diploma, he went on to achieve his bachelor and medical degrees from the University of California, San Francisco, where he graduated at the top of his medical school class. He moved on to Arizona where he helped develop the first trauma care system in southern Arizona in the city of Tucson.

He built a career combining his desire to serve his community and serve patients as a medical school professor at the University of Arizona, a public health official as the CEO of the Pima Health Care System and as the chairman of the State of Arizona Southern Regional Emergency Medical System, and as a police officer with the Pima County Sheriff's SWAT team. He has valiantly risked his life in the line of duty on more than one occasion, which has brought him commendations including the Pima County Medal of Honor and the National Valor Award from the National Tactical Officers Association. The National Association of Police Organization named him the nation's Top Cop in 2000.

Dr. Carmona is a hero to those he serves in Arizona and we expect that he will be a hero to the cause of stronger public health in America as Surgeon General. I'm excited for the Congress to meet him and look forward to working with him at HHS.

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Last revised: March 26, 2002