Dr. Carmona was a Clinical Professor in Public Health, Surgery and Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona. He was also medical director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue Unit, department surgeon and SWAT training officer at the Pima County Sheriff's Department, and the attending surgeon at the U.A. Campus Student Health Center. Among his many credits include the fact that he was instrumental in creating Arizona's first Disaster Medical Assistance Team. In 1993 Pima County, Arizona, where Tucson is located, honored Dr. Carmona by naming him Physician of the Year. He is known as a specialist in the area of public health preparedness and has coordinated Arizona's efforts in bioterrorism prevention and response. Dr. Carmona isn't new to public service. He has been an Army Green Beret in Vietnam, a police officer, a SWAT team member and a nurse. In May 2002 Dr. Carmona was honored by the University of Arizona in Tucson when he was presented with the Alumnus of the Year Award.
President Bush considered and picked him for this important position because of his extensive experience in managing public health organizations, his background in preparedness and dealing with emergencies, and commitment to prevention as an effective means to improve public health. He has received many other awards and honors during his life, including the Medal of Honor, Medal of Valor, two Purple Hearts, National S.W.A.T. Officer of the Year and the National "Top Cop" Award presented at the White House in 2000.
What does the Surgeon General do exactly? According to The Office of the Surgeon General, he serves as the nation's leading spokesman on matters of public health. The Surgeon General is appointed by the president with the counsel and consent of the Senate and serves a four-year term.
The following excerpts were taken from the speech given by President Bush announcing his selection for Surgeon General:
"The next Surgeon General will address three particularly urgent issues. First, the Surgeon General administers the 5,600-member Public Health Service Commission Corps, health care professionals who are on call for emergency duty. Members of this force were deployed in New York and Washington, D.C. after the terrorist attacks of September the 11th, and during the anthrax attacks that followed."
"Second, I have asked Dr. Carmona to lead an important initiative focusing on prevention and life-long healthy living as a key component to medical care. The research is overwhelming that simple improvements in diet and exercise would result in dramatic improvements in America's health....The doc and I are going to encourage all our country to either run or walk or swim or bicycle for the good of their families, for the good of their own health, and for the good of the health of the nation."
"And thirdly, Dr. Carmona is going to speak regularly to the nation about alcohol and drug abuse, and the tremendous toll they take on our society."
It has been said that had the terrorist attacks of September 11 not occurred, Dr. Carmona might not have been the obvious choice. But since he has such extensive background in bioterrorism prevention, he seemed the logical selection to deal with the issues facing us today.
Dr. Richard Carmona was born in 1949 and grew up in Harlem in New York City. He was the first child of the poor, Puerto Rican Carmona family to graduate from college. He did so, however, only after dropping out of high school to join the Army. He later obtained his G.E.D. and went on to become the successful individual we have been introduced to as our new Surgeon General. He moved to Arizona in 1985. He is married and has four children. When his term as Surgeon General was over, he returned to Tucson, Arizona.