U.S. Senate confirms Puerto Rican doctor as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs

The content originally appeared on: El Nuevo Día

The U.S. Senate confirmed yesterday Puerto Rican doctor Lester Mart?nez L?pez as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, in a 61-34 vote.

Thirteen Republicans voted in favor of the nomination.

Initially nominated in November 2021, President Joe Biden reappointed him last January 3, at the beginning of this 118th Congress.

Mart?nez L?pez, a Maricao native and Florida resident, retired from the U.S. Army with the permanent rank of Major General.

Earlier this century, Mart?nez-L?pez became the first Latino to head the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

“Dr. Mart?nez-Lopez’s responsibilities included directing the Army’s worldwide medical research, acquisition, and logistics program,” said the White House when announcing the Puerto Rican doctor’s nomination in November 2021.

At the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Mart?nez-L?pez was tasked with overseeing research in cancer, trauma, infectious diseases, biodefense, chemical defense, nutrition, environmental health, aviation medicine, and telemedicine research.

He also led the premier national biological and chemical defense laboratory program and the development of the National Biodefense Campus at Fort Detrick.

Mart?nez L?pez also served as Commanding General of the Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine at Edgewood, Maryland.

In the private sector, Mart?nez L?pez most recently served as medical director of Brandon Regional Hospital in Florida and Senior Vice President and Administrator of the Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital in Harris County Texas.

“We are incredibly proud of General Mart?nez-L?pez, a man of integrity who wears his Maricao roots as a badge of honor. He has patiently waited more than 400 days to join the government to do a job for which he is more than qualified,” said Javier Cuevas, chair of Grupo 21, which supported his confirmation.

Cuevas said the organization “has accompanied him through his ups and downs. “More than 100 leaders of prestigious national and local groups” of different backgrounds and professional affiliations, including retired military officers, wrote letters, held meetings, and made phone calls in support of his nomination, and “today we celebrate with him,” he added.