May 20, 2022
Becoming a senior military officer is often synonymous with becoming a leader. My personal journey has been an abundance of rewarding and provocative moments that have prompted me to examine and reflect on the importance of genuine leadership.
Since leaving the military, I’ve become even more appreciative of all that the US Navy has taught me about responsible and responsive leadership. Leadership remains an important element of making meaningful change for good and for the greater good. It should be ever present and not saved for crises.
For nearly 30 years Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, MD, MBA, FACS, served with honor and distinction as a highly respected Naval Officer and the first woman surgeon in the military to hold the rank of Vice Admiral.
Currently, Bono is the Chief Health Officer for Viking Cruises, an industry-leading model to establish a C-suite office for re-starting the cruise and travel business while maintaining a public health safety profile. Previously, she was a gubernatorial appointee as the Director of Washington State COVID-19 Health System Response Management, Bono is a Senior Fellow with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and a Visiting Scholar of the University of Texas Value Institute. As the former chief executive officer (CEO) and director, Defense Health Agency (DHA), Vice Admiral (Dr.) Bono led a joint, integrated combat support agency that enabled all branches of the U.S. military – Army, Navy, and Air Force – medical services to provide health care services to combatant commands. Bono integrated an unprecedented $50 billion worldwide health care enterprise composed of 50 hospitals and 300 clinics that provide care to 9.5 million military beneficiaries; oversaw the Department of Defense (DoD) deployment of the electronic health record (EHR) system; and advanced the development of the largest federated health system with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
A board-certified trauma surgeon, Dr. Bono is an inspiration and role model for all surgeons, especially female surgeons across the country and in the military. Dr. Bono received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, Austin; her Master of Business Administration from Washington State University, Spokane; and her medical degree from Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, Lubbock. She completed her surgical internship and residency at the Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, VA, and performed a trauma and critical care fellowship at the Eastern Virginia Graduate School of Medicine, Norfolk.
Dr. Bono’s leadership positions in the DoD include: CEO/director, DHA (2015-2019); CEO/director, National Capital Region Medical Directorate (2013-2015); acting commander, Joint Task Force (JTF), National Capital Region (2013); functional champion, MHS GENESIS, the VA and DoD EHR (2014-2015); command surgeon, U.S. Pacific Command (2011-2013); chief of staff, TRICARE, DoD (2008-2010); commanding officer (CEO), Naval Hospital, Jacksonville, FL (2005-2008); executive assistant to the 35th Navy Surgeon General, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (2004-2005); director, medical-surgical services, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD (2003-2004); planning officer for the chief of the medical corps, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (2001-2002); director, restorative care, National Naval Medical Center (1999-2001); surgeon/surgeon intensivist, Naval Medical Center and Sentara Norfolk General Burn Trauma Unit (1991-1999); and head of casualty receiving, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm (1990-1991).
Her honors include: American College of Surgeons Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women in Surgery Award (2019); Federal IT Women in Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award (2019); Modern Healthcare’s 50 Most Influential Clinical Executive Leaders (2019); 50 Most Influential Healthcare Physician Executives and Leaders (2018) and 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare (2018); an Executive Mosaic Washington Top 100 Executives (2017, 2018, 2019); the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) Most Influential Women in Health Information Technology (2018); University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus (2017); Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Presidential Distinguished Alumni Award (2015); and the first Asian-American women promoted to Vice Admiral (three star) in the U.S. Navy.