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Lt. Gen. Nadja West has amassed several milestones in her 33-year Army career. She was sworn in last week as the first Black U.S. Army Surgeon General, and owns the distinction of being the highest-ranking woman ever to graduate from the West Point military academy.

Born in 1961, the Washington, D.C. native graduated from West Point in 1982 with a degree in engineering. She then entered the George Washington University School of Medicine, graduating in 1988 with a doctorate in medicine. Since then, West’s career climb has been nothing short of exceptional.

In times past, West has served as the commanding general of the Europe Regional Medical Command, a commander at the Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, and as the division surgeon for the 1st Armored Division.

She has served as commanding general of Europe Regional Medical Command, commander of Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and as the division surgeon for the 1st Armored Division.

On April 19, 2013, West became the first Black woman named as a major general when she received a two-star ranking. The humble and hard-working West followed in the footsteps of her father, a lifelong soldier, and several of her siblings who also chose a military career.

West’s appointment as the 44th U.S. Army Surgeon General position happened after she was confirmed as a Lieutenant General on Dec. 11 of this year. She was most recently the Joint Staff Surgeon at the Pentagon.

West’s husband, Donald West, is a retired Army colonel. The couple has two grown children.

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