Former White House physician Ronny Jackson was quietly demoted to retired Navy captain after investigation

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), a former White House physician, was quietly demoted by the Navy in 2022 to “retired captain” from “retired rear admiral,” according to a report published on Thursday.

Jackson, who served in the Navy for over two decades, frequently cited his former military title when campaigning for the House but was demoted to captain after a Pentagon inspector general’s report found he engaged in inappropriate behavior for someone of his rank and status.

The former naval officer-turned-representative has continued to use the former title incorrectly in statements since the reclassification.

“As a retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral with nearly three decades of military service I understand the commitment and sacrifices made by servicemen and servicewomen to serve our country,” Jackson said on his congressional website.

Other officials, including former President Donald Trump, have also used the former title when referring to Jackson. However, it is not clear whether they were aware of the demotion, which was not publicly announced when it took place in July 2022. 

The demotion was reported by the Washington Post on Thursday, citing a defense official and a former U.S. official.

Jackson was demoted for making “denigrating and sexual comments” about female subordinates in the White House medical unit, for consuming an inappropriate amount of alcohol with subordinates, and for using the sleep drug Ambien while serving as the White House physician. Jackson served in the post for two presidential administrations, under former Presidents Barack Obama and Trump.

“The substantiated allegations in the DoDIG investigation of Rear Adm 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, told the Washington Post.

Navy officers are held to a higher standard than regular government employees and Navy sailors. 

Aside from the loss of rank, the demotion also meant a pension cut of approximately $15,000 a year, according to Katherine Kuzminski, a military policy expert at the Center for a New American Security. Kuzminski also claimed that Jackson referring to himself as a “retired rear admiral” was inappropriate.

“While it is possible that others will mistakenly refer to him as ‘Admiral’ in perpetuity, he himself should not make that mistake,” Kuzminski said.

Jackson’s reputation during his time at the White House had led to a friendship with presidents in both parties. The friendship with Trump played a prominent role in Jackson’s election to the House. Trump had also attempted to promote Jackson from a one-star admiral to a two-star, but the nomination was stalled in Congress. Trump also tried to appoint Jackson to his Cabinet as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

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The backlash that Jackson received over being nominated for a Cabinet position prompted the Pentagon’s inspector general investigations and a whistleblower report.

Jackson has not commented on the demotion but previously claimed the investigations into him were politically motivated.

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