Wednesday is the final day in office for the Army’s surgeon general, Lieutenant General Eric Schoomaker. He became the Army’s top doctor four years ago this month. He got the slot after helping improve conditions at the (now closed) Walter Reed army hospital, following a Washington Post series that highlighted poor conditions for soldiers in outpatient housing there.
Schoomaker, an internist and hematologist – blood doctor — got high marks from most who dealt with him. The brother of former Army general and chief of staff Peter Schoomaker, Eric comes from an Army family. You could see the pain on his face whenever he discussed the vexing issues facing the medical corps, be it suicide in the ranks, poor conditions in Warrior Transition Units, or perpetually trying to do more with less.
Replacing Schoomaker is Major General Patricia Horoho, who will get her third star when she is sworn in as the first nurse – and first woman – to serve as Army surgeon general. We’ll be covering her and the challenges she faces.
But this post is to recognize General Schoomaker for a job well done. “War is not just a physical act of battle,” he told me over chocolate-chip cookies in his office last year. “War is a struggle of the will of whole nations and peoples to persist, trying to right the wrongs that they as a nation see occurring in whatever dimension that might be.” War also shows us that some of our most important generals don’t command troops in battle, but tend to their wounds after they have done their duty.