Richard H. Carmona was born in 1949 and raised in New York City. He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967, where he earned his General Equivalency Diploma. Through his service with the U.S. Army Special Forces in Vietnam, Carmona became a decorated combat veteran. After leaving active duty, Richard Carmona attended Bronx Community College through an open enrollment program for veterans, and received his associate of arts degree. His education continued at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), where he earned a bachelor of science degree and medical doctor degree in 1977 and 1979, respectively. He was awarded the prestigious gold-headed cane as the top graduate of UCSF Medical School. He completed his subspecialty training in general and vascular surgery and went on to earn a master’s degree in public health from the University of Arizona in 1998.
In 2002 Dr. Richard H. Carmona was appointed by President George W. Bush as the 17th Surgeon General of the United States, making him the first Hispanic man to serve in this capacity. Dr. Carmona left the office in 2006 after completing his four-year term. Currently Dr. Carmona is the Distinguished Professor of Public Health, Health Promotion Sciences and Community, Environment and Policy (ESHS) at the University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.