The Army formally welcomed its 44th surgeon general, Tuesday. Nadja West made history as the first African American to serve as the service’s surgeon general. She’s been in office since December 2015.
During the ceremony, West was promoted to lieutenant general. An orphan, West is the first black woman to hold the rank of lieutenant general and the highest-ranking woman of any race to graduate from West Point.
“She has performed brilliantly in the two months she’s been the surgeon general, and I can personally attest to that,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley.
West said one of her priorities on her new job will be to ensure the Performance Triad continues to prosper. The initiative focuses on sleep, nutrition and activity as key factors to help soldiers stay at peak performance.
“Gen. Milley says readiness is his number one priority […] and there is no other number one, so my job will be to ensure that from the health care aspect, that I can enhance the readiness of our soldiers, our families and those who are entrusted to our care,” West said. “You can’t lead people if you don’t care about them. It has to be genuine care,” she added.