Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician turned GOP congressman, regularly touts his military bona fides. But Jackson is no longer a retired admiral. The Navy demoted him in July 2022 following a damaging Pentagon inspector general’s report that Jackson is now a retired Navy captain, those people said — a demotion that carries significant financial burden in addition to the social stigma of stripped rank in military circles. Despite the demotion, Jackson’s office did not respond to requests for comment about the Navy’s 2022 personnel action and his demotion. The former White House physician has become a prominent voice in the 2024 campaign, repeatedly affirming Trump’s fitness to serve while castigating President Biden’s. For an officer who served 24 years like Jackson, there is Kuzminski also said that it was inappropriate for Jackson to describe himself as a retired rear admiral. “While it is possible that others will mistakenly refer to him as ‘Admiral’ in perpetuity, he himself should not make that mistake,” she said. A Navy official confirmed that the service took unspecified “The substantiated allegations in the DoDIG [Department of Defense inspector general] investigation of Rear Adm. (lower half) Ronny Jackson are not in keeping with the standards the Navy requires of its leaders and, as such, the secretary of the Navy took administrative action in July 2022,” Lt. Cmdr. Joe Keiley, a Navy spokesman, said via email. Keiley declined to comment on Jackson’s current rank and whether he had been demoted. The Pentagon inspector general’s report had recommended that the Navy secretary take action against the retired officer, concluding that Jackson did not behave in the “exemplary” manner that is required of Navy officers. Military guidelines allow a provisional retirement rank if an officer is under investigation for misconduct at the time, as Jackson was during his departure from the Navy. Military officials have the option to downgrade the final rank if adverse findings are made, busting down an officer to the last grade at which they satisfactorily served. Retired officers can respond to the decision, according to Navy regulations, but it is unclear if Jackson did so or otherwise challenged the Navy secretary’s determination. In his July 2022 memoir, “Holding the Line,” Jackson dismisses the inspector general’s report as politically motivated. “If I had retired and not gotten into politics, this investigation would have never gone anywhere,” Jackson wrote. “This was happening because I am a perceived threat to the Biden administration and because a few political appointees in the Department of Defense want to make a name for themselves.” In the memoir, Jackson did not address the prospect of being demoted by the Navy. The Pentagon oversees the White House medical team, which is staffed by career military medical personnel and has become the focus of several investigations in the wake of Jackson’s tenure. The Defense Department in January released a second inspector general report into the White House medical team’s operations that does not name Jackson but faults aspects of how the unit was run while he served in the White House, such as the unit’s lax controls for powerful drugs like Ambien and the stimulant Provigil. Jackson, who first arrived at the White House in 2006, served as the medical unit’s director between 2010 and 2014 and as personal physician to Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump between 2013 and 2018. Former colleagues, political officials and Jackson himself have all described his strategy of providing complimentary, round-the-clock care to numerous White House officials and even their friends and family. The Pentagon’s most recent investigation found that many of the patients who received complimentary care from the White House medical team were not eligible for it. But in the White House, Jackson also endeared himself to Trump, particularly after a January 2018 news conference in which the White House physician extolled Trump’s health — joking to reporters that the then-71-year-old president could “live to be 200 years old” if he only ate healthier. Jackson added that Trump performed exceedingly well during a cognitive exam, a test that Jackson scheduled to rebut growing questions about the president’s fitness for office. Trump soon attempted to put Jackson in his Cabinet as secretary of veterans affairs, a failed nomination that prompted a whistleblower complaint to Congress and, later, the Pentagon’s inspector general’s investigations. Trump also twice nominated Jackson to become a two-star admiral, although the nominations stalled and he was not promoted. Jackson retired from the military and left the White House in 2019 to run for Congress, a long-shot campaign that succeeded with the backing of Trump. Jackson won reelection in 2022 and has emerged as a leading critic of President Biden’s fitness for office, injecting himself into this year’s presidential campaign with frequent TV appearances, news conferences and public statements assessing the 81-year-old Biden’s mental and physical health. Jackson also has publicly called for Around Capitol Hill and in political circles, Jackson is frequently referred to by his onetime military rank. “Where’s the admiral, Ronny Jackson? Come on up here,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), a retired Pennsylvania Army National Guard brigadier general, urged at a House Republican news conference in July 2023 as lawmakers discussed a defense spending bill. Speaking at the August 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference — days after the Navy privately demoted Jackson — Trump also “He was an admiral, a doctor and now he’s a congressman, and I said, which is the best if you had your choice? And he sort of indicated doctor because he loved looking at my body, it was so strong,” Trump joked before pivoting to the reason for his affection for Jackson. “He said I’m the healthiest president that’s ever lived. … I said, I like this guy.”

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