Captain Rita G. Simmons, a native of Charleston, WV, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education from Marshall University in Huntington, WV, and was commissioned in 1984.
Captain Simmons’ first assignment was as a Placement Officer in Service College Selection and Graduate Education Programs at the Naval Military Personnel Command (N-44), Washington, DC, before being selected for pilot training and reporting to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, FL, in 1986. She earned her aviator wings in 1988, was sent for initial C-130 qualifications under joint training with the Air Force at Little Rock, Air Force Base, Arkansas, and then reported as a fleet pilot to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Three (VQ-3), Barbers Point, HI.
In 1990, Captain Simmons transferred to NAS Pensacola, FL as an academic and pre-flight student instructor at Naval Aviation Schools Command. She served as Department Head, Physical Training and Swim Division, was selected by the Commanding Officer as the first female Class Officer for Aviation Officer Candidate School. Captain Simmons earned a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology at the University of West Florida in 1994.
In December of 1996, Captain Simmons was accepted into the Medical Service Corps. She earned her Aerospace Physiologist wings in September 1997 and was assigned to the Aviation Survival Training Center, Pensacola, FL. Following this tour, Captain Simmons reported to Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, China Lake, CA, and served as Officer in Charge of the Navy Test Parachute Detachment and as Military Deputy, Crew Systems Department, Naval Air Systems Command (AIR 4.6).
In 2002, Captain Simmons was selected to attend the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) to attain a Ph. D. in Applied Human Biology. In June 2005, she was transferred to Naval  Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory (NAMRL) as a Research Scientist. In March 2006, Captain Simmons was selected as the Deputy, Officer in Charge and served as principal investigator on four research protocols including work in the areas of hypoxia, motion sickness, and spatial disorientation. She was promoted to the rank of Commander in September 2007. Captain Simmons’ Ph.D. from USUHS was conferred in May 2008.
In July of 2008, Captain Simmons assumed charge of NAMRL and assumed the responsibility of transferring the command to Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) under a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) directive.
In October 2010, Captain Simmons transferred to Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH, as the first Executive Officer for Navy Medicine’s newest research command, Naval Medical Research Unit-Dayton. In March 2012, Captain Simmons was promoted to her current rank and assumed command of Naval Medical Research Unit-San Antonio (NAMRU-SA) later that year.
Her awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (2), Navy Commendation Medal (4 awards), Navy Achievement Medal (2 awards), Meritorious Unit Commendation (2 awards), and Battle E (2 awards).