On University Day, Army Surgeon General and Commanding General of the US Army Medical Command Patricia D. Horoho, BSN ’82, received the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Distinguished Alumna Award.
“For generations, UNC’s grads have gone on to become influential leaders,” she said. “My fellow award recipients Jim Hunt, Sandy McNally, Wade Smith, and James Patton are shining examples of the fine work UNC does in this regard.”
Lt. Gen Horoho made history when she was sworn in as the 43rd Army Surgeon General in December 2011. She is the first nurse and the first woman to serve as Army Surgeon General since the position was originally established in 1775. She is also the first female commander since the Army’s medical missions were reorganized and expanded under the U.S. Army Medical Command in 1994.
Her journey to this groundbreaking appointment began in earnest when she graduated from the UNC School of Nursing in 1982. When speaking of her Carolina education, she has said, “I have always known I was destined to pursue a life dedicated to public service. What I didn’t realize fully at the time, or even when I first entered a career dedicated to public service, was the real education I received at UNC was in caring, honor, and dedication to mission.”
Her dedication led to a very distinguished career as a leader. Her leadership includes deployments in Haiti and Kabul, Afghanistan. In the United States, she has served as Chief of the Army Nurse Corps, Commanding General of the Western Regional Medical Command and Madigan Army Medical Center, Commander of the Walter Reed Health Care System, and Commander of DeWitt Army Community Hospital. Lt. Gen Horoho’s many awards and decorations for service to our country include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, and the Meritorious Service Medal– four of the highest honors awarded by the United States Army. She is also a recipient of the Order of Military Medical Merit Medallion, an award presented to those who demonstrate the highest standards of integrity, moral character, and professional excellence in their service to the Army Medical Department. In 2013, The French bestowed upon her the National Order of the Legion of Honour for her exceptional career accomplishments.
Lieutenant General Horoho has been honored for her leadership during disaster-relief efforts. She was Head Nurse of the Womack Army Medical Center emergency department when her unit was awarded the Superior Unit Citation for their work during the Pope Air Force Base crash in 1994. Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, she was honored by Time Life Publications for her actions in providing medical care following the attack on the Pentagon. She was subsequently named a “Nurse Hero” in 2002 by the American Red Cross and Nursing Spectrum and USO “Woman of the Year” in 2009.
Among her many other achievements, Lieutenant General Horoho was named Alumna of the Year by the SON in 2011. In June 2012, she was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, one of the highest distinctions in the nursing profession. More recently, the American Red Cross presented her with the 2013 Women Who Care Humanitarian Award and this August, she was honored as the first military service member and nurse to receive the New York Institute of Technology’s Riland Public Service Award.
Prior to the University Day festivities, Lt. Gen Horoho spent some quality time with five students who represented different UNC nursing degree programs and different branches of the military. Over breakfast at the Carolina Inn, they discussed nursing, leadership, and Lt. Gen Horoho’s experience in the military. Lt. Gen Horoho presented each student, and Interim Dean Donna Havens, with a challenge coin bearing the insignia of her office.