WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday named presidential physician Ronny Jackson his new choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, bringing the military doctor who vouched for Trump’s health in front of the country to a key Cabinet position.
The spotlight last landed on Jackson when he fielded questions from reporters at the White House on Trump’s physical in January. At the briefing, he pronounced Trump’s health “excellent” and dismissed questions regarding Trump’s mental fitness by saying he had “no concerns” in that area.
Jackson noted during the question-and-answer session that Trump himself had asked for the cognitive exam and for the physician to give a thorough briefing to the press. A source told CNN at the time that Trump was pleased with what he saw.
So who is Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson — the doctor serving the executive branch who is in line to be the next VA secretary?
Although he has been serving in the Trump administration, Jackson’s time as White House physician carries over from previous presidencies.
He was tapped to be a physician for the White House during President George W. Bush’s tenure in 2006, while Jackson was deployed in Iraq, according to his Navy biography.
That biography also says he is a Texas native who graduated from medical school at the University of Texas in 1995, the same year he began active duty service in the Navy in Virginia.
In 2005, the Navy said Jackson joined the 2nd Marines Combat Logistics Regiment 25 in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and that he deployed from there to Iraq as the war was underway before Bush tapped him for a White House role.
Then-President Barack Obama appointed Jackson as his own presidential physician, and the role has continued under Trump. He will now face confirmation in the Senate for the VA role.
The Pentagon just last Friday announced that Trump had nominated Jackson to the position of rear admiral (upper half) from his current position of rear admiral (lower half) — a promotion that would give Jackson a second star and an increase in pay.
Jackson will resign his commission and retire from active duty before he is confirmed as Veterans Affairs Secretary, a senior White House official told CNN.