ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND-NORTH, Md. (Feb. 1, 2012) -- Maj. Gen. Jimmie O. Keenan assumed command of the U.S. Army Public Health Command during a traditional military ceremony Jan. 27 at the Top of the Bay, Aberdeen Proving Ground--North.

She is the first two-star general to head the U.S. Army Public Health Command, or USAPHC, or its predecessor organizations, the Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine and the Army Veterinary Command.

Before hundreds of USAPHC Soldiers and civilians, guests, family and friends, Command Sgt. Major Gerald C. Ecker received the unit colors from Keenan, after she received them from Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, the 43rd Army surgeon general and commander, U.S. Army Medical Command, and reviewing official for the ceremony.

Horoho commended Col. Dennis C. Brown for his extraordinary leadership while serving as the acting commander of the USAPHC, and expressed her continued confidence in him as he returns to the command's chief of staff position.

Horoho also praised Keenan's leadership, and said the command's future is bright with leaders like her.

"Major General Keenan's skills and experience as a leader and administrator make her most qualified to take the reins as commander and to ensure that the Public Health Command remains a key enabler for Army Medicine and for the entire military health system," said Horoho. "We look forward to her bold leadership, enabling us to prevent disease and promote good health at every level from the individual deployed Soldier to the entire Army family."

Keenan is the 12th commander and fourth nurse to lead the U.S. Army Public Heath Command. She said she looks forward to broadening the organization legacy of outstanding service to Soldiers and retirees, their families and Army civilians. She said she was humbled to serve in her new position, and called the command the "bedrock of prevention-based, wellness-focused health care."

She emphasized that the mission of prevention is key to the future of Army medicine, as well as to the well-being of each individual the USAPHC supports.

"Our responsibility is great," she pointed out, explaining that Army Medicine looks to the Public Health Command for identification of diseases, epidemics and spikes in medical conditions that signal the need for medical intervention; for injury prevention; and for analysis of the factors that contribute to suicide.

"We monitor, mitigate and archive environmental health risks (and evaluate) occupational exposures in our workplaces, helping to protect both Soldiers and civilian employees, empowering us make the healthy changes that will help ensure our quality of life," said Keenan.

Despite the potential for budget constraints, Keenan expects the demand for USAPHC's public health services to increase.

"We will continue to champion the cause of those we serve," she said. "We will remain pioneers, creating initiatives that promote both mental and physical wellness. Together, we will continue to improve, to pursue promising initiatives and to base our decisions on good values, good science and good practice."

In her new duties as commanding general of the USAPHC, Keenan will lead a worldwide organization with more than 3,000 Soldiers and civilians assigned. The USAPHC promotes health and prevents disease, injury and disability in Soldiers and military retirees, their family members, and Army civilians, and assures effective execution of full-spectrum veterinary services for the Army and Department of Defense.

Keenan was commissioned into the Army as a Nurse Corps officer after receiving her Baccalaureate of Nursing degree from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark. She also holds a Master of Science in Nursing Administration from the Medical College of Georgia and a Master's in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.

She has enjoyed a variety of medical and command assignments of increasing responsibility, both in the U.S. and overseas. She was selected as an Army Congressional Fellow assigned to the staff of then-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Her most recent assignments were as the first chief of staff, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, and as commander of Evans Army Community Hospital, Fort Carson, Colo.

Keenan's awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, and the Army Achievement Medal.

She has earned the Expert Field Medical Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Air Assault Badge, and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

Keenan was the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award winner for the Health Services Command in 1988, and a regional finalist in the White House Fellowship Program in 1992. She is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit and a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.