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U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps



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The Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service (COA) is dedicated to improving and protecting the public health of the United States by advocating for the Commissioned Corps and its officers.

COA protects the interests of the Commissioned Corps officers of the U.S. Public Health Service, uniformed service professionals in public health and global health.

Recent COA achievements include:

  • Whistleblower protections
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill transferability for PHS officers
  • Congressional passage of all COA-backed health care reform proposals
  • 49 years of the annual USPHS Scientific and Training Symposium, a mission-related conference bringing together Federal, state, local, and tribal health leaders

Latest Stories

Corps Officers on Front Line of Ebola Outbreak

09/17/2014 - President Obama and Secretary Burwell announced response teams from the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service will travel to Liberia to assist with the outbreak of Ebola. PHS officers, who will be trained in dealing with the deadly virus, will coordinate with members of the military, USAID, World Health Organization, and international partners like Medecins Sans Frontieres. They will care for health care workers who contracted Ebola, provide technical assistance, and logistical support for the growing international response.

Building on decades of experience as America's Health Responders for disasters and outbreaks throughout the world, Public Health Service officers will be stepping into a "hot zone" in which mortality rates are high and time is precious to treat cases and trace contacts to put out the wildfire that is Ebola.

The PHS response teams will succeed.
HHS Press Release on Corps Response - 9/16/2014

Remembering 911

09/11/2014 - For many of us the events of September 11, 2001, will always remain in our memories and in our hearts. For our parents and grandparents the question was often posed, “Where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor?” For those of us who span several younger generations, it will be the equivalent question about 911. It will likely be a completely personal experience, as it is for me.

I will always remember that on September 11, 2001, I was teaching a class at one of the war colleges at Fort McNair in Southwest, DC. I was partway through the lesson of the day when a faculty member burst into the classroom and said, “Turn on CNN. An airplane has just crashed into the World Trade Center.” We projected the television live feed onto the big screen in the front of the room, and watched, incredulous that such could have happened. I seem to recall watching as the second airplane crashed into the World Trade Center, but I may be imagining that we did so. Before long we saw smoke arising from the Pentagon, where so many of us had served, and we were told that an airplane had also crashed into that building. We learned later that some of our colleagues who were trained as EMTs had left Fort McNair and driven as close to the Pentagon as they could get, given the extreme traffic snarl. They then walked to the Pentagon, identified themselves to those in charge, and began assisting the injured. Our classes were cancelled for the remainder of the day. I waited in my office until early evening, by which time traffic had cleared enough for me to go home.

Our country had been changed, perhaps forever, and increased security—some of it ill-advised and some of it quite prudent—began to intrude itself into our lives. As we remember the thirteenth anniversary of this series of attacks and the brave souls who died that day--some of them fighting the hijackers until the end--let us consider the strengths of our country and its resilience. We will always face disasters, whether from high winds and water or from a virulent disease or from terrorist attacks, but I have no doubt that our country will emerge strong and determined to persevere.

You all as commissioned officers in the U.S. Public Health Service will undoubtedly play a large role in the recovery from such disasters, as you have done so many times in the past. Please remember those who perished on 911 in whatever way you find appropriate, secure in the knowledge that we as a country emerged from this terrible day thirteen years ago undaunted and unbowed. That is the spirit of our great country, a beacon to the world around us, and a magnet for those who seek freedom and opportunity.

Jim Currie

PHS Officers Respond to Ebola Outbreak

09/08/2014 - Dozens of Public Health Service officers continue to respond to the Ebola outbreak spreading throughout West Africa. Most of these officers are detailed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their missions include treating cases, preventing more cases, and tracing anyone who came in contact with Ebola-infected persons. PHS officers working stateside are supporting those in the field and helping to develop a vaccine for Ebola. They are doing amazing work. President Obama and CDC Director Tom Frieden agree that more work is needed to stem the tide of Ebola. Rest assured that PHS officers will be involved.
CNN article

New PHS Officer's Guide Available for Purchase

08/26/2014 - Buy your copy of the new and improved PHS Officer's Guide, a must-have for every officer in the PHS Commissioned Corps. Authors CAPT Jim Knoben (Ret.) and CAPT Alice Knoben added a chapter on leadership principles and updated all other content. RADM Boris Lushniak wrote, "The Public Health Service Officer's Guide is an excellent reference (that) provides an opportunity for officers to enhance their knowledge base."

Chapters in the book include: Uniformed Service Essentials, Leadership Principles, Courtesy & Protocol, Ceremony Protocol, Special Duty Positions, Communications, Meetings, Table Protocol, and much more. The appendices include planning for various ceremonies, Dining-Out, formal receptions, and distinguished visitors.

COA members can buy copies for $15 each. Below is an order form.
Order Form for PHS Officer's Guide

More association news



We have now partnered with the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, allowing COA members to receive a $7,500 scholarship when they enroll in the online, accredited Master of Public Health program or the online Executive Master of Health Administration.


Below is a 1936 film that includes the history of the USPHS.



The September Frontline is available for viewing on the COA Members Only website.
The September Frontline is available for viewing on the COA Members Only website. Interested in submitting an article for Frontline? See GUIDELINES for submissions (located @ Members Only/Frontline). Then email submission to Frontline@coausphs.org.

Click here to login to the COA Members Only website!

Go to the COA Members Only Website, and click on the PenFed link to join Pentagon Federal Credit Union!


Post 9/11 GI Bill Transferability

Huge victory for USPHS Commissioned Corps officers who serve their country with honor. Want to take advantage of this great benefit but don’t know where to start? The Cincinnati COA Branch developed “Notes from the Road." Below it is guidance prepared by GI Bill experts at PHS.

©2013 Commissioned Officers Association of the USPHS Inc
Revised 09/17/2014