Gov. Phil Murphy will nominate Col. Lisa J. Hou as the first woman to serve as New Jersey Adjutant General and Commissioner of Military and Veterans Affairs, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Hou has held the posts on an interim basis since last October, when Gen. Jemal Beale was forced to resign following intense criticism of Coronavirus-related deaths as two state-run veterans homes.
Hou, 50, is a physician who served as a decorated Army field surgeon in Iraq and Afghanistan. If confirmed by the State Senate, Hou would become the first Asian American to serve as Adjutant General.
The Belmar resident joined the National Guard in 1994 while attending medical school. She previously served as assistant commissioner for operations, as deputy adjutant general, and as the state surgeon.
Murphy will also ask the Pentagon to promote Hou to Brigadier General so that her military rank matches her title. That requires U.S. Senate confirmation, but the move is not unusual.
Beale wasn’t the only Adjutant General to face controversy.
Major General Glenn Rieth resigned under pressure in 2011 after he was caught having an affair with a work colleague.
His successor, Brig. General Michael Cunniff, was disciplined by the Pentagon for being overweight and ducking required physical fitness tests. Cunniff eventually slimmed down, passed his test, and remained in Christie’s cabinet until Murphy nominated Beale in 2018.
Hou would become the 33rd Adjutant General of New Jersey, a post that goes back to 1776, when Gov. William Livingston appointed Col. William Bott to the post.
She would be the first physician to serve as Adjutant General since John Beatty served from 1812 to 1814. Another physician, Ebenezer Elmer, was the Adjutant General in 1804.
The post of Adjutant General of New Jersey has been around since 1776, when Gov. William Livingston asked the Provincial Congress to confirm his pick of Springfield resident William Bott for the post.
Bott served for 17 years.