From the Halls of the White House to the Shores of Yap—RADM David Rutstein (ret.) has Made an Impact at Home and Abroad

RADM David Rutstein and his wife Gayle depart retirement ceremony

RADM David Rutstein and his wife Gayle depart retirement ceremony

Surgeon General Vice Admiral Dr. Regina Benjamin and RADM David Rutstein

Surgeon General Vice Admiral Dr. Regina
Benjamin and RADM David Rutstein

Former Acting Deputy Surgeon General RADM Rutstein was honored Nov. 18 at a retirement ceremony attended by approximately 100 U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers, retired officers, family, and friends. RADM Rutstein's dedicated years of selfless service were praised by Surgeon General Vice Admiral Dr. Regina Benjamin; Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th U.S. Surgeon General; Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu, Acting Surgeon General 2002, 2006, and 2007 and Deputy Surgeon General 1998-2007; RADM Boris Lushniak, the current Deputy Surgeon General; and Dr. Howard Koh, the Assistant Secretary of Health, among others.

In a ceremony mixed with honored traditions as well as touching personal stories, RADM Rutstein’s more than 20-year career was highlighted as one of distinction, one which included a 13-year mission in Micronesia, a detail at the White House as Director of Lessons Learned from the Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina, a number of deployments and concluded with his duties as Deputy Surgeon General.

"RADM Rutstein has so many medals pinned to his chest that it’s amazing he can even stand," joked Dr. Koh. Subsequently adding to the weight of his uniform, Surgeon General Benjamin, who attended medical school with RADM Rutstein, presented him with the Surgeon General’s Medallion, the highest award the Surgeon General can bestow at her own discretion.

While presenting the medal, Surgeon General Benjamin highlighted RADM Rutstein’s leadership and noted that he "left a legacy for all of us to treasure."

Dr. Carmona acknowledged RADM Rutstein’s commitment to his country, even when faced with decisions that may negatively impact his own career. In response to a request to serve on the commission appointed by President George W. Bush to evaluate the response to Hurricane Katrina, RADM Rutstein acknowledged the "political dangers" that faced him. Knowing it might expose him to political backlash and potentially slow his career, Carmona said RADM Rutstein never hesitated, simply acknowledging that he was not in the Commissioned Corps "to be promoted, I’m here to serve the country."

RADM Moritsugu also expressed appreciation for the dedicated service RADM Rutstein provided, praising him as the "personification of Commissioned Corps values. He’s a pillar of excellence in everything he’s done; he is a sterling officer with a sterling career."

Additionally, Dr. Carmona noted that the ceremony was just as much a tribute to RADM Rutstein’s family as it was for him. "They supported him while he provided selfless service to our nation," he said, saluting his wife and children seated in the front row.

"I have him back!" joked RADM Rutstein’s wife, Gayle. "We’re so grateful for the kindness and affection shown to us by the officers of the Commissioned Corps."