Rachel Levine Becomes First Transgender Four-Star Officer in Any Branch of Military: 'Profound Responsibility'

Rachel Levine
Rachel Levine

Caroline Brehman-Pool/Getty

Dr. Rachel Levine is checking another box in the history books.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that the 63-year-old will be sworn in as an admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps — becoming its first-ever female four-star admiral and the nation's first openly transgender four-star officer across any of the eight uniformed services.

Speaking on the historic milestone, Levine said she was "humbled" to lead 6,000 Public Health Service officers who are dedicated to serving underserved and vulnerable populations across the nation.

"I am humbled to serve as the first female four-star officer of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and first openly transgender four-star officer across any of the 8 uniformed services," she said in a statement, per Forbes. "This is a momentous occasion and I am pleased to take this role for the impact I can make, and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes. May this appointment be the first of many like it as we create a more inclusive future."

Rachel Levine
Rachel Levine

Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty

RELATED: Rachel Levine Becomes Top Openly Transgender Official in U.S. History and Vows to 'Not Be the Last'

Levine told USA Today that there's a "significant and profound responsibility" that comes with her new role, planning to tackle issues including the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid crisis, and transition-related care. Several officials praised Levine and the Biden administration for the commitment to diversity and inclusion.

"Admiral Levine's historic appointment as the first openly transgender four-star officer is a giant step forward toward equality as a nation," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement, according to the Washington Post.

Rachel Levine
Rachel Levine

Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

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U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy added, "Her appointment represents an important step towards a more inclusive future, and her service will undoubtedly advance the USPHS Commissioned Corps' mission to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our nation," Forbes reports.

In March, Levine also became the country's highest-ranking openly transgender official after she was confirmed by the Senate as the assistant secretary of the Health and Human Services Department.

"I will not be the last," Levine said in a statement to The New York Times at the time. "When I assume this position, I will stand on the shoulders of those who came before — people we know throughout history and those whose names we will never know because they were forced to live and work in the shadows."