Dr. Rachel Levine is making more history.
Levine was ceremonially sworn in Tuesday as a four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, becoming the nation’s first openly transgender four-star officer across any of the uniformed services of the United States.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden chose Levine to be the U.S. assistant secretary for health. She also became the top ranking officer of the USPHS Commissioned Corps, which includes 6,000 officers serving vulnerable and underserved groups. She’s also the first female officer to lead the corps.
The USPHS Commissioned Corps helps deliver health care after emergencies and natural disasters and has been part of the effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The corps isn’t a military branch but is one of eight uniformed services in the U.S. government and the only one focused on public health.
Levine, 63, said she was “humbled” to be the first openly transgender four-star officer of a uniformed service.
“This is a momentous occasion and I am honored to take this role for the impact I can make, and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes,” Levine said Tuesday.
“The time is now for our country to continue to move the bar forward for diversity and I am proud to wear this uniform and answer that call,” Levine said.
Levine spent years leading Pennsylvania’s health department and gained a higher profile with her work coordinating the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden brought Levine into her high-ranking role in his administration in January. The U.S. Senate confirmed her nomination to the federal post in March.
— Ron Southwick, pennlive.com