Over the past couple of months, the Sun has highlighted a variety of residents of Hernando County who have been nominated to be featured as part of our Hernando Heroes series. Other locals have recognized these outstanding individuals for their long-standing contributions to the neighborhood and beyond. Margo Wilson nominated Dr. Peter Tan, and the series is back to highlight him in today’s issue. The doctor currently serves as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at HCA Oak Hill Hospital, and the president and CEO of the consulting firm TANARM LLC. Much of Dr. Tan’s career has been dedicated to serving his country and others.
“Dr. Peter Tan is a man of many talents, whose humbleness and generous heart are matched by his intellect, professional skill, and love for his country, friends, family, and community,” Wilson said. “The Brooksville resident… retired as a colonel after 36 years as a [U.S. Army Medical Officer that was branched in the] Dental Corps. In May, the American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons honored Tan with its  Humanitarian Award.”
The retired colonel has served on the boards of many different organizations, locally and across the country, including serving as the president of the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology and its Anesthesia Foundation based in Chicago. Of the litany of titles he has held in the military, he was the highest-ranking Reserve Dental Corps officer in the Office of Surgeon General and Pentagon and was the second in command of the Pacific and Europe Regional Dental Commands. He headed the largest dental company in the world and was the commander of a Medical Readiness Training Battalion. He also taught residents as university faculty and was an original partner of a large maxillofacial surgery private practice in Maryland. His business served three generations of residents of Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, parts of Maryland, and the outskirts of Washington, D.C.
Originally, the doctor was branched into Field Artillery after graduating from the University of Notre Dame Army ROTC as an Early Commission cadet. He was placed on educational delay and served in the Medical Service Corps while studying at Howard University College of Dentistry. He served on active duty at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas and was eventually the Chief of the Department of Restorative-Hygiene. He was accepted into the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which is now known as Rutgers University.
Dr. Tan has had “a lot of simultaneous careers.” In the field of surgery, the retired Army officer completed his internship and residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Rutgers. The doctor subsequently finished a fellowship in maxillofacial and craniofacial surgery and facial pain at St. Louis University School of Medicine. Determined to learn more, he then earned a dual master’s degree in public health and emergency management.
The doctor’s “intertwined” medical and Army careers stemmed from a deep family history involving the two fields. Included in four generations of military service are prisoners of war, two Death March survivors, four Congressional Gold Medal recipients, two parents who served in World War II, and his two sons (Dr. Peter Jr. and Ryan), who are currently serving in the Army. It is a similar story regarding health care as “it’s kind of what we do,” Dr. Tan said. “It’s kind of a family business, really.” His mother was an Army nurse during the occupation of the Japanese in the Philippines and his daughter, Kristin, is a pediatric intensive care nurse.
Colonel Tan retired from the Army in 2019 after 36 years of Active and Reserve duty. On September 21, 2022, he was asked to raise his hand in front of family and close friends before the Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Christine Wormuth, as her Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) for Florida. This gave the now-retired officer three-star protocol status as one of Wormuth’s force multipliers across the United States.
Down to earth and introspective, Dr. Tan was greatly honored by the various recognitions he has received, including being featured by this newspaper. The retired Army officer acknowledged the help he has had along the way to be in the position he is now.
“I’m very humbled by all of it, really,” Dr. Tan said. “I’ve always been taught to give back and pay forward. It’s kind of a mantra for being a self-servant in the military. I realize that I could not have gotten anywhere without being mentored and supported by those that I have been serving with… I never forget the hardships of those that have gone before me, to include my parents and all those that have served this nation. I always describe it as I stand on the shoulders of giants.”