|United States Public Health Service|
USPHS Commissioned Corps centennial emblem fashioned after the Corps' official seal.
|Founded||4 January 1889|
|Role||Healthcare and medical services|
|Headquarters||Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness, North Bethesda, Maryland, U.S. (Rockville mailing address)|
|Motto(s)||"Protecting, promoting and advancing the health and safety of the Nation!" (core values: Leadership, Service, Integrity, and Excellence)|
|Colors||Blue and Yellow-Gold|
|March||"Public Health Service March" |
|Engagements|| Spanish–American War |
World War I
World War II
War in Afghanistan
|Assistant Secretary for Health||ADM Brett P. Giroir|
|Surgeon General||VADM Jerome Adams|
|Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health||RADM Sylvia Trent-Adams|
|Deputy Surgeon General||RADM Erica G. Schwartz|
|Flag of the U.S. Public Health Service|
The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC),also referred to as the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service, is the federal uniformed service of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), and is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.
The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services concerned with public health. It contains eight out of the department's eleven operating divisions. The Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) oversees the PHS. The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) is the federal uniformed service of the USPHS, and is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.
The United States of America has seven federal uniformed services that commission officers as defined by Title 10 and subsequently structured and organized by Title 10, Title 14, Title 32 and Title 42 of the United States Code.
Along with the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of two uniformed services that consist only of commissioned officers and has no enlisted or warrant officer ranks, although warrant officers have been authorized for use within the service.Officers of the PHS are classified as noncombatants, unless directed to serve as and part of the armed forces by the President or detailed to a service branch of the armed forces. Members of the commissioned corps wear the same uniforms as the United States Navy, or the United States Coast Guard (when assigned to the Coast Guard), with special PHS Commissioned Corps insignia, and hold ranks equivalent to officers of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. Officers of the commissioned corps typically receive their commissions through the PHS Commissioned Corps's direct commissioning program.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, known informally as the NOAA Corps, is one of seven federal uniformed services of the United States, and operates under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a scientific agency overseen by the Department of Commerce. The NOAA Corps is made up of scientifically and technically trained officers and is the smallest of the U.S. uniformed services. It is one of only two––the other being the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps––that consists only of commissioned officers, with no enlisted or warrant officer ranks.
An enlisted rank is, in some armed services, any rank below that of a commissioned officer. The term can be inclusive of non-commissioned officers or warrant officers, except in United States military usage where warrant officers/chief warrant officers are a separate officer category ranking above enlisted grades and below commissioned officer grades. In most cases, enlisted service personnel perform jobs specific to their own occupational specialty, as opposed to the more generalized command responsibilities of commissioned officers. The term "enlistment" refers solely to a military commitment whereas the terms "taken of strength" and "struck off strength" refer to a servicemember being carried on a given unit's roll.
The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.
As with its parent division, the Public Health Service, the commissioned corps is under the direction of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The commissioned corps is led by the Surgeon General, who holds the grade of vice admiral.The Surgeon General reports directly to the Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Health; the Assistant Secretary of Health may be appointed to the rank of admiral if he or she is a currently-serving member of the commissioned corps.
The United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), also known as the Health Department, is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services. Its motto is "Improving the health, safety, and well-being of America". Before the separate federal Department of Education was created in 1979, it was called the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).
The surgeon general of the United States is the operational head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) and thus the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government of the United States. The surgeon general's office and staff are known as the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) which is housed within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.
Vice admiral is a three-star commissioned naval officer rank in the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, with the pay grade of O-9. Vice admiral ranks above rear admiral and below admiral. Vice admiral is equivalent to the rank of lieutenant general in the other uniformed services.
The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps had its beginnings with the creation of the Marine Hospital Fund in 1798, which later was reorganized in 1871 as the Marine Hospital Service. The Marine Hospital Service was charged with the care and maintenance of merchant sailors, but as the country grew, so did the ever-expanding mission of the service. The Marine Hospital Service soon began taking on new expanding health roles that included such health initiatives that protected the commerce and health of America. One such role was quarantine.
The Marine Hospital Service was an organization of Marine Hospitals dedicated to the care of ill and disabled seamen in the United States Merchant Marine, the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal beneficiaries. The Marine Hospital Service evolved into the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
A quarantine is a restriction on the movement of people and goods which is intended to prevent the spread of disease or pests. It is often used in connection to disease and illness, preventing the movement of those who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, but do not have a confirmed medical diagnosis. The term is often used synonymously with medical isolation, in which those confirmed to be infected with a communicable disease are isolated from the healthy population.
John Maynard Woodworth, a famous surgeon of the Union Army who served under General William Tecumseh Sherman, was appointed in 1871 as the Supervising Surgeon. Woodworth's title was later changed to "Supervising Surgeon General," which later became the Surgeon General of the United States. Woodworth is credited with the formal creation of the Commissioned Corps. Woodworth organized the Marine Hospital Service medical personnel along Army military structure in 1889 to facilitate a mobile force of health professionals that could be moved for the needs of the service and country. He established appointment standards and designed the Marine Hospital Service herald of a fouled anchor and caduceus. Later that year of 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed an Act into law that formally established the modern Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (then the Marine Hospital Service under the Supervising Surgeon (later Surgeon General)). At first open only to physicians, over the course of the twentieth century, the Corps expanded to 11 careers in a wide range of specialties to include veterinarians, dentists, engineers, pharmacists, nurses, environmental health specialists, scientists, dietitians, and other allied health professionals.
John Maynard Woodworth was an American physician and member of the Woodworth political family. He served as the first Supervising-Surgeon General under U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant, then changed to Surgeon General of the United States Marine Hospital Service from 1871 to 1879.
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator, and author. He served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861–65), for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the scorched earth policies he implemented in conducting total war against the Confederate States.
The caduceus is the traditional symbol of Hermes and features two snakes winding around an often winged staff. It is often mistakenly used as a symbol of medicine instead of the Rod of Asclepius, especially in the United States. The two-snake caduceus design has ancient and consistent associations with trade, eloquence, negotiation, alchemy and wisdom.
Today, the commissioned corps is under the United States Public Health Service (PHS), a major agency now of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), established by Congress in 1979-1980. It was previously established in 1953 as the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), and is still led by the Surgeon General. The commissioned corps allocates officers to all seven uniformed services depending on the health or medical needs of the other uniformed services. The commissioned corps was featured in the 1950 motion picture Panic in the Streets, in which Richard Widmark portrayed a Public Health Service physician tracking down a bubonic plague victim.
Panic in the Streets is a 1950 film noir directed by Elia Kazan. It was shot exclusively on location in New Orleans, Louisiana, and features numerous New Orleans citizens in speaking and non-speaking roles.
Richard Weedt Widmark was an American film, stage, and television actor and producer.
The stated mission of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service is "Protecting, promoting, and advancing the health and safety of the Nation" in accordance with the commissioned corps's four Core Values: Leadership, Excellence, Integrity, and Service. Officers execute the mission of the commissioned corps in the following ways:
Plus, the commissioned corps provides officers (Medical Officers, Dental Officers, Therapists, Environmental Health Officers, etc.) to other uniformed services, primarily the United States Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps (NOAA Corps). Commissioned corps officers may be detailed to other federal agencies including the Department of Defense, TRICARE, Department of Justice (Federal Bureau of Prisons), State Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of the Interior (National Park Service). Commissioned corps officers may develop individual memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with other organizations, including state and local health agencies, and even non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The Commissioned Corps is often called upon by other federal, state, and local agencies to aid and augment in times when those agencies' resources are overwhelmed. These responses are designated as deployments by the commissioned corps, if the deployment is outside of the officer's "normal" duties, and coordinated through the commissioned corps's Readiness and Deployment Operations Group (REDDOG) in the Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness (DCCPR).Deployments may be for technical needs in standard settings, or in the event of disasters, in austere environments.
The commissioned corps is often deployed as part of the National Response Framework Emergency Support Function #8 – Public Health and Medical Services, but can be deployed outside of the Framework for various needs to other federal agencies, states, local governments, or even to aid foreign governments. Like all other federal-level responses, commissioned corps officers are deployed only upon request, and upon the recommendation of the Surgeon General and permission of the Assistant Secretary for Health. During deployments, commissioned corps officers may report to regular office spaces, such as coordinating responses at state-of-the-art emergency operations centers, or into the field in extremely austere environments, such as when responding to a natural disaster. In addition, deployments may either be on an individual basis, such as when specific skill sets are needed, or as part of a team, when large-scale responses are needed.
The commissioned corps uses a tiered system of response, with Tier 1 response teams ready and able to respond to an event within 12 hours, and Tier 2 teams ready and able to respond within 36 hours. Officers not on Tier 1 or 2 teams are Tier 3 responders, ready and able to respond to an event in 72 hours. Tier 1 teams are primarily made up of Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) teams that are made up of over 100 officers with multiple specialties, and are focused on providing acute clinical care of disaster-exacerbated chronic conditions. Officers who do not work as a clinical care provider on one of these teams are often in support roles, such as logistics, administration/finance, or planning. Tier 2 teams are composed of a smaller, more specialized workforce. Current Tier 2 teams include the Applied Public Health Team (APHT), the Mental Health Team (MHT), and the Services Access Team (SAT). Tier 3 commissioned corps officers not already assigned to one of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams are used to augment the Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams in the event of staffing shortages due to availability, or the need to scale up a response.
They are trained and equipped to respond to public health crises and national emergencies, such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or terrorist attacks. The teams are multidisciplinary and are capable of responding to domestic and international humanitarian missions. Some notable deployments involving the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps include:
In addition to disaster response, the commissioned corps frequently partners with the United States Navy on their health diplomacy missions. PHS Corps officers have been part of the Navy's Pacific Partnership (in the Pacific basin) and Continuing Promise (in the Caribbean/west Atlantic) since 2007. Such missions are often carried out on either the US Navy's commissioned hospital ships, the USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) or USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), though other ships, such as the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5), have also been used. The command staff of the PHS deployed team(s) is deployed for the entire mission duration (often three months), while operational personnel serve one month aboard, meeting and departing the ships at the ports of call during the mission.
The commissioned corps, as a uniformed service, may be militarized and considered a branch of the armed forces by an act of Congress, or by executive order by the President of the United States, not only in time of war, but in "an emergency involving the national defense proclaimed by the President." Major militarization of the corps occurred during World War II and another later during the Korean War.
Commissioned Corps officers wear uniforms similar to those of the United States Navy with special PHS insignia. In certain duty situations, a commissioned corps officer can be detailed to work with another uniformed service. For example, the NOAA Corps does not commission medical officers, so the commissioned corps details medical officers to serve with the NOAA as needed. The commissioned corps also details a number of officers to the United States Coast Guard. Because of this close relationship, if a commissioned corps officer is on assignment with the Coast Guard, the officer is required to wear the same service uniforms as commissioned Coast Guard officers, but still bearing PHS Commissioned Corps insignia to identify them. The commissioned corps officer is subject to the grooming standards of the service to which attached for uniform appearance.
|Commissioned officer ranks, pay grades, titles and abbreviations of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps|
|Junior assistant||Assistant||Senior assistant||Full||Senior||Director|
|Rear Admiral (lower half)||Rear Admiral||Vice Admiral||Admiral|
|Assistant Surgeon General||Deputy Surgeon General or|
Assistant Surgeon General
|Surgeon General||Assistant Secretary for Health|
The members of the Commissioned Corps number over 6,700 officers in 11 professional categories:
The Health Services Officer (HSO) category comprises over 50 allied health specialties, including audiology, social workers, physician assistants, optometrists, statisticians, computer scientists, dental hygienists, medical records administrators, medical technologists and others.
The commissioned corps uses the same commissioned officer rank structure as the United States Navy and Coast Guard: from ensign to admiral (O-1 through O-10). Commissioned Corps officers are typically appointed via direct commission, and receive the same pay and benefits as other members of the uniformed services. They cannot hold a dual commission with another uniformed service but inter-service transfers are permitted.
The commissioned corps may be militarized by the President. 42 USC 217 states:
In time of war, or of emergency involving the national defense proclaimed by the President, he may by Executive order declare the commissioned corps of the Service to be a military service. Upon such declaration, and during the period of such war or such emergency or such part thereof as the President shall prescribe, the commissioned corps (a) shall constitute a branch of the land and naval forces of the United States, (b) shall, to the extent prescribed by regulations of the President, be subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice [10 U.S.C. 801 et seq.], and (c) shall continue to operate as part of the Service except to the extent that the President may direct as Commander in Chief.
The Corps is authorized to use warrant officer ranks W-1 to W-4 under the U.S. Code of law,but does not currently use these ranks.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed by President Obama on 23 March 2010, established the Ready Reserve Corps as the new surge capacity for the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. In addition, all Reserve Corps officers who were serving on extended active duty on 23 March 2010, were converted to Regular Corps officers. The same legislation also abolished the Inactive Reserve Corps (IRC) on 23 March 2010, and consequently the commissions of the existing 10,000 commissioned corps IRC officers. The Office of Reserve Affairs (ORA) sent letters to those individuals, notifying them of their change of status.
The IRC served as an asset for the commissioned corps. Inactive reservists voluntarily activated to provide over 3,000 active-duty days annually for routine and public health emergencies including during Hurricane Katrina and other emergency response missions and in providing surge capacity for numerous shortages in isolated and hardship underserved areas. Inactive reservists also played roles in the humanitarian shipboard training missions with other uniformed services.
Congress established the Ready Reserve Corps to fulfill the need to have additional commissioned corps personnel available on short notice to assist Regular Corps personnel to meet both routine public health and emergency response missions. The Ready Reserve Corps officers will be available and ready for involuntary calls to active duty during national emergencies and public health crises.
Because of the changes in the law, a Ready Reserve Corps Working Integrated Project Team (WIPT) was convened in April 2010 to propose policy concepts, a strategic framework, and a budget for the Ready Reserve Corps. The WIPT submitted its final report to the Office of Commissioned Corps Force Management (OCCFM) in June 2010, and OCCFM forwarded the recommendations of the WIPT to the Assistant Secretary for Health for review and approval. As of late 2016, the directives and policies to implement the Ready Reserve await Secretarial decisions needed to implement the 2010 law.
Standards for appointment into the Ready Reserve Corps and related proposed directives and policies remain under review. ORA is not accepting applications for the Ready Reserve Corps at this time, but will begin accepting applications after the Secretary issues the implementing directives.
ORA, in collaboration with OCCFM and the Office of Commissioned Corps Operations, will continue to coordinate Ready Reserve Corps initiatives and communications. When information is available on the appointment criteria, policies, and application procedures, updates will appear on the USPHS Web site at https://web.archive.org/web/20090506174822/http://www.usphs.gov/ and the Commissioned Corps Management Information System Web site at http://dcp.psc.gov. As soon as the appointment standards are available, qualified individuals are encouraged to apply for appointment into the Ready Reserve Corps.
Like the other U.S. uniformed services, the U.S. Public Health Service has a march and accompanying lyrics. Composed by retired U.S. Coast Guard Senior Chief Musician George King III in the late 1980s,the lyrics are as follows:
The Surgeon General’s Medallion is the third highest award of the Public Health Service and the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. The medal is awarded in the name of the United States Surgeon General for actions of exceptional achievement to the cause of public health and medicine. It is awarded by the Surgeon General of the United States.
The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a network in the U.S. of community-based units initiated and established by local organizations to meet the public health needs of their communities. It is sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). The MRC consists of medical and non-medical volunteers who contribute to local health initiatives, such as activities meeting the Surgeon General's priorities for public health, and supplement existing response capabilities in time of emergency. The MRC provides the structure necessary to pre-identify, credential, train, and activate medical and public health volunteers.
The Medical Corps of the United States Navy is a staff corps consisting of military physicians in a variety of specialties. It is the senior corps among all staff corps, second in precedence only to line officers. The corps of commissioned officers was founded on March 3, 1871.
The Army Medical Department of the U.S. Army (AMEDD), formerly the Army Medical Service (AMS), encompasses the Army's six medical Special Branches. It was established as the "Army Hospital" in July 1775 to coordinate the medical care required by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The AMEDD is led by the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, a lieutenant general.
Pay grades are used by the seven uniformed services of the United States to determine wages and benefits based on the corresponding military rank of a member of the services. While different titles or ranks may be used among the seven uniformed services, pay grades are uniform and equivalent between the services and can be used to quickly determine seniority among a group of members from different services. They are also essential when determining a member's entitlements such as basic pay and allowances.
The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC), one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, has the authority to issue various awards, commendations, and other insignia to its members. These include individual honor awards, unit honor awards, service awards, training ribbons, special skill badges, and identification badges. The following PHSCC awards are listed in the service's order of precedence:
Rear Admiral W. Craig Vanderwagen USPHS - retired is a Founder and General Manager of East West Protection, LLC, a company committed to building a safer world by developing and delivering integrated solutions to protect communities and sovereign countries from the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and natural pandemics. EWP provides disaster preparedness policy and program development, management, strategic planning advice, training management, and threat and impact studies and analytical support to local, national and international organizations in both the public and private sectors.
A direct commission officer (DCO) is a United States uniformed officer who has received a commission without the typical prerequisites for achieving a commission, such as attending a four-year service academy, a four-year or two-year college ROTC program, or one of the officer candidate school or officer training school programs, the latter OCS/OTS programs typically slightly over three months in length.
The Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) serves as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services's primary advisor on matters involving the nation's public health and, if serving as an active member in the regular corps, is the highest ranking uniformed officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC). The ASH oversees all matters pertaining to the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), the main division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for the Secretary as well as provide strategic and policy direction for the PHSCC. The PHS comprises almost all the agency divisions of the HHS as well as the PHSCC, a uniformed service of more than 6,700 health professionals who serve at the HHS, other federal agencies, and/or are assigned details to the armed forces. The ASH is a civilian or a uniformed member of the regular corps and is nominated for appointment by the President. The nominee must also be confirmed by the Senate. The ASH serves a four-year term of office at the pleasure of the President. If the appointee is a serving member of the regular corps, he or she is also appointed as a four-star admiral in the regular corps. The President may also nominate a civilian appointee to also be appointed a direct commission into the regular corps if the nominee so chooses. As such the position of ASH is the only office in the PHS that merits a four-star grade in the regular corps. The Assistant Secretary's office and staff are known as the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH). The current Assistant Secretary for Health is Admiral Brett Giroir.
Rear admiral in the United States refers to two different ranks of commissioned officers — one-star flag officers and two-star flag officers. By contrast, in most nations, the term "rear admiral" refers to an officer of two-star rank.
Steven K. Libutti, F.A.C.S. is an American surgeon and scientist. In January 2017, he became the third permanent Director of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Vice Chancellor for Cancer Programs for Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences and the Senior Vice President for Oncology Services for RWJBarnabas Health, the largest health system in New Jersey. He is a tenured Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Libutti's work on the study of tumor angiogenesis and the tumor microenvironment has led to novel approaches for the treatment of cancer. He is also one of the pioneers of regional and targeted cancer therapy. He was the founding Director of the Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care, and served as the Associate Director of the Albert Einstein Cancer Center and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 2009-2017. Libutti was a tenured Professor of Surgery and Genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York and a Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. In September, 2009, Libutti was invested as The Marvin L. Gliedman, M.D. Distinguished Surgeon in the Department of Surgery at Montefiore Medical Center. Libutti is the Editor-in-Chief of the Springer Nature journal, Cancer Gene Therapy.
Steven Kenneth Galson is an American public health physician. He is currently Senior Vice President for Global Regulatory Affairs & Safety at Amgen, the California-based biopharmaceutical company. He is also Professor-at-Large at the Keck Graduate Institute for Applied Life Sciences in Clarmont, California. He is a retired rear admiral in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and public health administrator who served as the acting Surgeon General of the United States from October 1, 2007 – October 1, 2009. He served concurrently as acting Assistant Secretary for Health from January 22, 2009 to June 25, 2009, and as the Deputy Director and Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the Food and Drug Administration from 2001 to 2007. As the Acting Surgeon General, he was the commander of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and, while serving as the Assistant Secretary for Health, was the operational head of the Public Health Service.
Donald L. Weaver is an American physician. He is a rear admiral in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and public health administrator who served as the acting Surgeon General of the United States. Weaver succeeded Steven K. Galson in October 2009, in expectation of a holdup by the United States Senate in confirming Regina Benjamin as Surgeon General. Before being appointed as Acting Surgeon General, he served as the Deputy Associate Administrator for Primary Health Care in the Health Resources and Services Administration.
In the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, captain is the senior-most commissioned officer rank below that of flag officer. The equivalent rank is colonel in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
The Public Health Service Meritorious Service Medal is an honor award presented to members of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Officer Corps. The PHS MSM is awarded in recognition of meritorious service of a single but particularly important achievement, a career notable for accomplishments in technical or professional fields, or unusually high-quality and initiative in leadership.
This is a timeline of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and its predecessor, the Marine Hospital Service.