By Stacy Neumann (Fort Carson)January 19, 2012
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Col. John M. McGrath took the helm of Fort Carson Medical Department Activity from Col. Jimmie O. Keenan during a change of command ceremony at the Special Events Center Jan. 12.
Later that day, Keenan was promoted to major general -- a rare honor of jumping over the rank of brigadier general -- in preparation for her next assignment as the 24th chief of the Army Nurse Corps and commanding general, U.S. Army Public Health Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
Before hundreds of guests, Family and friends, Keenan passed the unit colors to Maj. Gen. Philip Volpe, commanding general, Western Regional Medical Command, relinquishing command, who then handed the colors to McGrath, signifying his assumption of command.
Volpe, who served as reviewing officer at the ceremony, lauded Keenan's accomplishments, citing her work in establishing embedded behavioral health care teams in Fort Carson's brigade combat teams and enhancing Soldier readiness.
"Jimmie is known as a strong advocate for customer service. Her compassion was loud and contagious," Volpe said. "Her personable disposition and professional acumen have been instrumental in establishing and maintaining strategic relationships with local network and (Veterans Affairs) health care partners."
Since her tenure began in May 2009, Keenan has been responsible for the more than 2,600 people who work at MEDDAC. In her farewell address, she thanked them for their time together.
"I have watched as the Soldiers standing before us, those still at work today and the civilians within our MEDDAC ranks always put the care of our Soldiers and Families first. You know that I am passionate about delivering the highest quality of care and this team of professionals responded," she said.
Keenan said it's been an honor to lead MEDDAC through both its physical renovations to upgrade patient care and through its efforts to extend behavioral health care and resiliency principles.
Volpe said he is confident that MEDDAC remains in good hands with McGrath.
"I can think of no better qualified leader to step into this role. He is a perfect fit for this assignment and Team Carson," Volpe said.
"Colonel Keenan created a culture of innovation and care focused on Soldiers. I'll strive to maintain and build upon that," McGrath said.
Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, Army Surgeon General, said Keenan's promotion and assignment selection shouldn't come as a surprise.
"She makes things better and knows how to build a team," said Horoho. "She sees the art of possibility."
Keenan's children, husband -- Col. John Keenan, deputy garrison commander -- and mother attached her new shoulder boards. Keenan also received her general officer's belt, two-star flag and an engraved shell casing from the 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, salute battery that fired a 15-volley salute.
Keenan expressed her appreciation for her mentors and pledged to remain at the vanguard of Army Medicine.
"I believe in our mission; supporting Soldier readiness means taking care of a Soldier's mind, body and spirit. It is ensuring the wellness and resiliency of all the people who trust that we will look out for their well-being. It is delivering these services with compassion and ensuring we are good stewards of our nation's resources," said Keenan.
As chief of the Army Nurse Corps, Keenan will have oversight of more than 40,000 civilian, active-duty and Reserve nurses. In her duties as commanding general of the U.S. Army Public Health Command, she will lead a worldwide agency responsible for public health, veterinary, laboratory care and preventive medicine.