BROOKSVILLE — Nominated by President Barack Obama and approved by the U.S. Senate, a local Marine Corps reservist has been promoted to brigadier general.
Only 1 percent of Marine Corps colonels who are eligible for promotion achieve the rank, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
The new brigadier general, James Scott Hartsell, is associate administrator of Brooksville Regional Hospital.
Hartsell, 48, of Land O'Lakes, is one of the youngest Marines to be awarded the rank. He was honored with a resolution Tuesday at the Hernando County Commission meeting and a celebration Wednesday at Brooksville Regional.
Describing his responsibilities, and having recently returned from a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan, Hartsell said, "As a general officer, you're getting into more strategic operational duties, more accountability, representing the country more at a responsible level."
In Afghanistan, the then-colonel served as the Marines' senior operational liaison with the NATO command. While hosting NATO-country dignitaries, he explained Marines operations and squired official representatives to battlefields. He also coordinated briefings and activities with special operations officers.
Previously, Hartsell served a year in Iraq.
After graduation from the University of South Alabama, the Lake Wales native joined the Marines, commissioned as a second lieutenant. He served in active duty for 13 years. Following voluntary separation, Hartsell joined the Reserves 16 years ago, personifying the adage "Once a Marine, always a Marine."
Of his callups, Hartsell said, "Typically, in the Reserves, you'd serve several weekends a year, rarely a couple of months. After 9/11, Reserves became very active. After 9/11, they brought a lot of us back in. I jumped right back into it."
Both of his callups came while he was employed in the health care industry.
"It is a burden on my family and my employer," he said, "(but) they want to serve the nation."
Hartsell sees parallels between the military and health care administration. They both are service-oriented, both require leadership and communication skills, and both include community relations aspects.
"So, to me, it wasn't that much of a transition," he said. "Communication access enables me to float between the two."
In the request for his promotion, Hartsell was required to detail his community involvement, which includes his local church, the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, the Hernando County Family YMCA, the United Way of Hernando County, Arc of the Nature Coast, the 2008 Leadership Hernando class and various hospital board affiliations.
Hartsell has been married to his wife, Melisa, for 21 years. The have three sons: Nathan, 18; Evin, 21, and Alex, 24.
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]