Jimmie Owens Keenan (1963–)

Major General Jimmie Owens Keenan served as the chief of the Army Nurse Corps and the commanding general of the U.S. Army Public Health Command. She became the first two-star general to head the Army Public Health Command when she was promoted from colonel to major general and assumed the command on January 23, 2012. She skipped the rank of brigadier general, which is highly unusual.

Jimmie Owens Keenan was born in Murfreesboro (Pike County) on October 7, 1963. She attended local schools and entered Henderson State University (HSU) in 1982 with the goal of becoming a nurse. She concentrated on the nursing and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs and graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a regular army commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps. She received a Master of Science degree in nursing administration from the Medical College of Georgia (1986) and, later, a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College (2006). Her military education included the Army Medical Department Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.

Keenan undertook a variety of assignments all over the world during her army career. Her assignments included serving as staff nurse of oncology/hematology and charge nurse in the emergency department at the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Fort Gordon, Georgia; nurse counselor at Fort Gillen, Georgia (1990–1992); officer basic nurse advisor at Fort Sam Houston, Texas (1992–1994); chief nurse of A Company, 168th Medical Battalion, at Camp Red Cloud, Korea (1994–1995); head nurse of the emergency treatment section at the Twenty-first Combat Support Hospital at Fort Hood, Texas (1995–1997); chief nurse of the Department of Outlying Health Clinics at the Sixty-seventh Combat Support Hospital at Wuerzburg, Germany (1997–1999); chief nurse/executive officer of the Sixty-seventh Combat Support Hospital (Forward) of Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo (1999); army congressional fellow for U.S. senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) in Washington DC (2000–2002); chief of the Congressional Liaison Office, Office of the Army Surgeon General (2002–2003); garrison commander of Camp Bullis, Texas (2003–2006); deputy commander for Nursing, Dewitt Army Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir, Virginia (2006–2007); and chief of staff, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, at the Pentagon (2007–2009). Her last assignment prior to assuming command of the U.S. Army Public Health Command was commander of the Evans U.S. Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson, Colorado (2009–2012).

Keenan advanced in rank rapidly from second lieutenant (1986) to colonel (2006) and then to major general (2012). As chief of the Army Nurse Corps, she oversaw more than 40,000 civilian, active-duty, and Army Reserve nurses. In her duties as commanding general of the U.S. Army Public Health Command, she led a worldwide agency responsible for public health, veterinary care, laboratory care, and preventive medicine. She retired from the military in 2016 and became Senior Vice President of Enterprise Clinic Operations for WellMed Medical Management.

Her awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with an Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Army Achievement Medal. She has earned the Expert Field Medical Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Air Assault Badge, the Army Staff Identification Badge, and the Recruiter’s Badge. Keenan was the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award winner for the Health Services Command in 1988 and a regional finalist in the White House Fellowship Program in 1992. She is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit and a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Keenan is married to Colonel John Keenan, a 1984 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and they have a son and daughter.

For additional information:
“Woman of Influence: Jimmie Keenan.” Colorado Springs Business Journal, September 22, 2011. http://csbj.com/2011/09/22/woman-of-influence-jimmie-keenan/ (accessed December 12, 2023).

Molter, Nancy C. “Major General Jimmie O. Keenan, 24th Chief, Army Nurse Corps.” Army Nurse Corps Association. https://e-anca.org/History/Superintendents-Chiefs-of-the-ANC/Jimmie-O-Keenan  (accessed December 12, 2023).

John H. Hesterly
Aberdeen, Maryland


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