Preserving Our Past, Capitalizing on the Present, Embracing the Future

Major General Gale S. Pollock
22nd Chief, Army Nurse Corps

© Mary T. Sarnecky

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Gale S. Pollock was born on 19 November 1954 in Kearny, New Jersey, to Gloria Louise Stegman Pollock, a legal assistant, and Arthur Wallace Pollack, a meat cutter. One younger brother, Morgan, completed the Pollock family circle. Around age four Gale first expressed an unwavering intent to become a nurse, despite her family’s inability to support that dream. She nevertheless nurtured her goals across the intervening years until becoming a teenager. Then she providentially read about the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing (WRAIN) and resolved to apply for that scholarship opportunity.1 Her personal dynamism, strength of purpose, and innate ability to focus on multiple tasks energized her successful preparations for the highly competitive student selection process.  WRAIN accepted her application and young Pollock entered that program in 1972. In 1974 after spending her first two collegiate years taking required preliminary classes at Widener College in Chester, Pennsylvania, Pollock transitioned to the elite University of Maryland/WRAIN curriculum, graduating in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

First Lieutenant Pollock’s initial clinical assignment as an Army nurse was in the Coronary Intensive Care Unit at Walson Army Community Hospital at Fort Dix, New Jersey. After only one year, she realized that she preferred one-on-one nursing interactions. Thus she began anesthesia training, completing the didactic component at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and a subsequent clinical component at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC, in 1979. Later that year she reported in for her next assignment as staff nurse anesthetist at Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco, California, serving there until 1982. Another anesthesia assignment followed from 1982 to 1985 at Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center in Germany where Pollock met and married Army engineer First Lieutenant Douglas L. McAllaster. In 1986, Major Pollock took part in the didactic portion of the U.S. Army-Baylor Program in Health Care Administration (HCA) at Fort Sam Houston, TX. She then completed the HCA program’s affiliated residency at Darnall Army Community Hospital at Fort Hood, TX, in 1987. She remained at Fort Hood, Texas, serving there from 1988 to 1990.2 She accepted a new assignment in 1990 as Health Promotion Staff Officer in the Army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel in Washington, DC. Two years later, Lieutenant Colonel Pollock’s professional activities evolved as she assumed responsibilities as Senior Policy Analyst, Health Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense. In 1993, she accepted another clinical and administrative assignment as Chief, Anesthesia Nursing Service, at Walter Reed.  After two years there in the nation’s capital, Colonel Pollock next functioned as Health Fitness Nurse Consultant to the President, National Defense University, at Fort McNair, Washington, DC. She remained at McNair for another year in 1996-1997 as the Army selected her to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Several staff positions ensued at the Office of the Surgeon General after which Colonel Pollock rose to sequential command assignments at Army health care facilities in Fort Drum, NY, and Fort Benning, GA. In 2003, she became the Special Assistant to the Commanding General, Army Medical Command, at the Surgeon General’s Office, in Falls Church, VA, where she was charged with investigating issues linked to the Composite Health Care System, the Army’s health care information network.

In 2004, Pollock was promoted from Colonel to Major General, an unusual double promotion.  While wearing two stars on her shoulders, Pollock simultaneously served in two demanding roles as commander of Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, HI, and as 22nd chief of the Army Nurse Corps. General Pollock was the first chief of the Army Nurse Corps to serve in that position in the rank of Major General. Colonel Barbara J. Bruno was General Pollock’s choice to be the deputy chief of the Army Nurse Corps at the inception of her tenure in 2004. Colonel Bruno was based in San Antonio, TX, but commuted frequently to Washington, DC. She carried out her duties with keen insight and thoughtful candor. In 2006, General Pollock completed her command assignment at Tripler and became deputy surgeon general and subsequently stepped into a new position as Commander, US Medical Command and still later as Acting Surgeon General in 2007. Her assumption of the latter position came about when the incumbent Surgeon General unexpectedly retired prior to the completion of his term of office. Her final assignment before retirement was as Deputy Surgeon General for Force Management, a position she assumed in December 2007. Major General Pollock retired from active Army service in 2008.3

While serving as chief of the Army Nurse Corps, General Pollock’s contributions were prolific. One of her many accomplishments featured strengthening the educational level of reserve component Army nurses by requiring these officers to have an earned baccalaureate degree in nursing as a mandatory criterion for promotion to captain. Another important undertaking spearheaded by this senior leader concentrated on the complex process of instituting a policy that limited deployments of non-senior-leadership Army Nurse Corps officers in areas of combat to a period of six months. This effort mitigated personal burnout experienced by these combat nurses and decreased the exodus of Army nurses who resigned their Army commissions following redeployment. From active duty into retirement, General Pollock carried forward a deep and abiding concern for the welfare of soldiers profoundly affected by war. A significant portion of her post-retirement efforts was defined by this concern.

As an Army retiree, Major General Pollock further resolved to improve the lives of veterans suffering from combat-related vision loss. She created the Overcome Vision Loss Foundation, whose purposes were to provide advocacy and education for those who were visually impaired. In another important enterprise, this intrepid soldier nurse accepted the challenge to ascend to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2014. Her mission was to raise funds to support the END (Ending Neglected Diseases) Foundation, a charity formed to control and eliminate the most frequently occurring neglected diseases affecting the world’s most poor and defenseless people. Other extensive efforts during her retirement years were exemplified in her service on a number of boards of directors. In these venues she shared her expertise in healthcare leadership, planning on a strategic level, and group communication. While still on active duty and also continuing into her retirement years, many organizations recognized General Pollock with prestigious awards that highlighted her diverse professional and personal contributions. Among these honors were her induction as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing; the Agatha Hodgins Achievement Award conferred by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists; the American Legion Auxiliary’s 2007 Woman of the Year distinction; Baylor University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from the University of Maryland. The Daughters of the American Revolution also recognized Major General Pollock for her military nursing leadership accomplishments. Finally, Pollock served as an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University and became a governance fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors.

Major General Gale Susan Pollock and her husband Lieutenant Colonel Douglas L. McAllaster treasure their relaxation and leisure time at their home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There they take great pleasure in personal physical fitness training and delight in the grandeur of their beautiful surrounding world.4

  1. Gale S. Pollock, Interview by Lieutenant Colonel Cheryl Capers, Session 1, 24 July 2009, U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History, 2-20.  WRAIN was a four-year baccalaureate nursing program that subsidized future Army nurses’ first two academic years in civilian institutions of higher learning followed by a final two years of nursing education co-sponsored by the University of Maryland and by the Army Medical Department at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Mary T. Sarnecky, A History of the Army Nurse Corps (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press), 323-328.
  2. Usually graduates of the U.S. Army-Baylor Program transferred to another facility on a permanent change of station move following completion of their residency.  Pollock however remained at Fort Hood because her husband was also assigned there and they were in a joint domicile assignment program that typically maintained married service couples in the same location.
  3. Major General Gale Susan Pollock, “Curriculum Vitae,” no date, U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History. Gale S. Pollock, Interview by Lieutenant Colonel Cheryl Capers, Session 1, 24 July 2009, U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History, 33-44. Gale S. Pollock, Interview by Lieutenant Colonel Cheryl Capers, Session 3, 14 September 2009, U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History, 2-47. Gale S. Pollock, Interview by Lieutenant Colonel Cheryl Capers, Session 4, 15 September 2009, U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History, 1-54. Gale S. Pollock, Interview by Lieutenant Colonel Cheryl Capers, Session 5, 29 October 2009, U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History, 1-73. “Also of Interest. . . In Memoriam,” The Connection 40 (December 2015):7-8. Mary T. Sarnecky, A Contemporary History of the Army Nurse Corps (Washington, DC: Office of the Surgeon General, the Borden Institute), 200-201.
  4. Gale Pollock to author, e-mail communication, 5 January 2016. “Member News,” The Connection 39 (September 2014):3. accessed 9 February 2016., accessed 9 February 2016. accessed 9 February 2016. Gale Pollock to author, e-mail communication, 25 January 2016.