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Bush nominates United Methodist as surgeon general

By United Methodist News Service
May 25, 2007

Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr.

A United Methodist physician from Kentucky has been nominated to serve as the 18th surgeon general of the United States.

President Bush announced the appointment of James W. Holsinger Jr. as his nominee on May 24.

Holsinger, who is a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Kentucky, has led that state's health care system and taught at several American medical schools. He was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as chief medical director of the Veterans Health Administration in 1990 and became undersecretary for health in the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1992. He also served more than three decades in the U.S. Army Reserve, retiring as a major general in 1993.

A member of Hope Springs United Methodist Church in Lexington, Ky., where he serves as administrative pastor, Holsinger has been an active at all levels of the denomination. He currently is president of Judicial Council, the church's supreme court.

He also is treasurer of the World Methodist Council. "This is an honor for Dr. Holsinger and a fitting acknowledgement of his competency as a physician, administrator, teacher and leader," said the Rev. George Freeman, the council's executive director.

Holsinger has a bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky, master's degrees from both the University of South Carolina and Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, and his medical degree and doctorate from Duke University.

"As America's chief health educator, he will be charged with providing the best scientific information available on how Americans can make smart choices that improve their health and reduce their risk of illness and injury," Bush said in his announcement.

"Dr. Holsinger will particularly focus his efforts on educating parents and children about childhood obesity, a serious epidemic that decreases quality of life and burdens our healthcare system. I am confident that Dr. Holsinger will help our Nation confront this challenge and many others to ensure that Americans live longer, better, and healthier lives."

Attempts to reach Holsinger for comment on deadline were unsuccessful. The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader newspaper reported that Holsinger, in a statement, described the nomination as a "great honor." "I look forward to meeting with members of the Senate as they review and consider my nomination," he said.

Another United Methodist, M. Joycelyn Elders, served as U.S. Surgeon General from 1993-94 under the Clinton Administration. David Satcher, a former president of United Methodist-related Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., was U.S. Surgeon General from February 1998 through January 2001.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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