Commanding General Patricia D. Horoho, RN

Profiles in Nursing

Commanding General Patricia D. Horoho, RN

We salute you

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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In a first that all nurses will welcome, on Dec. 7, 2011, Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho assumed the leadership of the U.S. Army Medical Command, with the title of Commanding General and U.S. Army Surgeon General. As Surgeon General, she will serve as the medical expert for the army staff and provide guidance to field units. It is the most recent of her many honors, which include the Bronze Star, the Distinguished Service Medal and many other commendations.

She is the first woman to achieve that post — and the first nurse.  

Under Fire

Gen. Horoho was born at Fort Bragg in 1960 and attended parochial schools in the area. She graduated with a BSN in 1982 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (which named her Alumna of the Year in 2011). Additional degrees include a master of science degree as a clinical trauma nurse specialist from the University of Pittsburgh and a second master’s in natural resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. She is the mother of three children.

She has served in Afghanistan, and was honored by Time-Life and the Red Cross for her actions at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

During her time as head nurse of the 22-bed emergency room at Fort Bragg, Gen. Horoho’s crisis management skills were put to the test. She was instrumental in the triage, stabilization and care of over 100 Army paratroopers following the devastating 1994 crash at Pope Air Force Base, the events of which are recounted in the book, The Disaster on Green Ramp. (See sidebar.) Under her leadership, the hospital treated and released 51 of the crash’s 130 casualties, and admitted 55 more — 25 to intensive care units and 30 to inpatient wards.

$13.5 Billion Budget

Since 2008, Gen. Horoho has served as the chief of the Army Nurse Corps, which has 9,000 members on active duty and in the Reserve and National Guard. She also headed the Walter Reed Health Care System, which includes eight hospitals and clinics across several states.

As the Commanding General of the Army Medical Command, she will administer a system that is the third largest in the U.S., rivaled only by the Veterans Administration and the Hospital Corporation of America. The U. S. Army Surgeon General manages more than 480 facilities and 29 executive agencies, with a budget of $13.5 billion. She will oversee ai140,000 military and civilian employees, serving more than 3.5 million beneficiaries.

As Gen. Raymond Odierno said at her installation ceremony, “The Army cannot provide trained and ready forces to the nation without our talented medical professionals and leaders. In everything we do, we rely on Medical Command and the Surgeon General to set the vision for this community and have the courage to carry it out.” Odierno also pointed out that the Surgeon General’s impact extends far beyond the Army, providing leadership in areas such as pain management, brain injury, concussive injury and mental health promotion.  

Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN is a Working Nurse staff writer with extensive hospital and community-based nursing experience.

The Green Ramp Disaster, from Working NurseThe Green Ramp Disaster

During the afternoon of Mar. 23, 1994, an F-16 fighter engaging in flight simulation exercises clipped the wing of a C-130 transport plane. The C-130 managed to land safely, but the fighter was seriously damaged. Both F-16 crewmembers ejected successfully, but their aircraft careened past the runway and smashed into the “Green Ramp,” a large parking area where 500 paratroopers were waiting to board their aircraft for training exercises. The wreckage of the F-16 punctured one of the fuel tanks of a C-141 transport aircraft (above) parked on the ramp, creating a giant fireball that swept directly into the nearby paratroopers. Twenty-three men died and over 100 were injured.

Photos, courtesy

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