Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Raquel Bono, a Filipino-American who served in the Navy for over three decades.
As a child, Raquel Bono, born Raquel Cruz, lived in the Philippines, Minnesota and Canada before settling in Texas. Her father was a surgeon and served in the U.S. Navy Reserve. In a 2020 Ted Talk, Bono recalls talking with her father when she was a young girl about jobs she could have when she grew up. She listed a number of professions, and her father asked why “doctor” wasn’t on her list. Bono told him that “she didn’t know girls could be doctors.” Her father responded, “You can be anything.” Bono took this advice to heart and followed in her father’s footsteps, becoming a surgeon and serving in the Navy.
Bono earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, in 1979. She then attended medical school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas, through the Navy’s Health Professions Scholarship Program. Bono was the first woman to graduate from the program in 1983. She went to the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, for her surgical internship and residency. Then, Bono attended Eastern Virginia Graduate School of Medicine in Norfolk, Virginia, for a trauma and critical care fellowship.
She went on to serve a long and notable career. Shortly after Bono completed her training, she deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as the head of casualty receiving for a fleet hospital. When she returned to the U.S., she served in a number of surgical and leadership positions.
Her last position was as director of the Defense Health Agency in Virginia. She held that position for six years until 2019, when she retired. Bono rose to the rank of vice admiral, which made her the first Asian American woman as well as the first woman surgeon to achieve this position. Her brother, Anatolio Cruz III, also decided on a naval career. He achieved the rank of rear admiral. This made Bono and Cruz the Navy’s first and only sibling pair of admirals of Filipino descent.
In March 2020, Bono became Washington state’s COVID-19 hospital “czar.” Bono is currently the chief health officer of Viking Cruises and a principal at RCB Consulting, LLC.
In addition to her medical education, Bono earned an Executive Master of Business Administration in 2015 from the Carson College of Business at Washington State University. Over the span of her career, she received three Defense Superior Service Medals, four Legion of Merit Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals and two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals.
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Writer: Michael Veronda
Editors: Katherine Berman and Amanda Baker
Fact checkers: Ciara Nalda and Lia Sansoucy
Graphic artist: Katie Rahill