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Public Health

The President of the United States Publicly Praises the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps for its Response to the Ebola Outbreak

11/04/2014 - For the third time in recent weeks, the President of the United States has publicly praised the U.S. Public Health Services Commissioned Corps and its response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In a widely publicized ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday, October 29, the President thanked the PHS and singled out two PHS officers, CAPT Calvin Edwards and CDR Daniel Chertow, for special mention. Captain Edwards is still in Liberia, but CDR Chertow has returned. He is seen here, accepting the President's congratulations. RADM Boris Lushniak, U.S. Surgeon General (acting), was at the White House as well. He described the experience in a morale-boosting communication sent to all active-duty PHS officers on Friday, Oct. 31.

Message From Acting U.S. Surgeon General RADM Lushniak to Fellow Officers (pdf, 32 KB)

PHS Ebola Team in the News (at last!)

10/28/2014 - In its lead story over the weekend, The Washington Post described the role of the PHS Commissioned Corps in Liberia. Post reporters interviewed RADM Scott Giberson and other PHS officers in Monrovia, and included some PHS history. The story, a detailed look at the total American response to the epidemic in West Africa, occupied what is prime real estate in the newspaper business: front page, upper right-hand corner, above the fold, and published on Sunday for maximum readership. RADM Giberson was also interviewed by The New York Times for a story published on Monday, Oct. 27. Below are links to the Post story and to the Times story:

Click Here for The Washington Post Article

Click Here for the New York Times Article

PHS Ebola Deployment, Washington Post Oct. 25, 2014 (PDF,reformatted) (pdf, 2.2 MB)

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

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

BCOAG Will Be Returning to New Orleans Again in 2014

07/03/2014 - For the past seven years, BCOAG has made a commitment to serve the people of New Orleans, Louisiana one week annually through outreach missions trips. BCOAG is continuing its tradition and is planning its 2014 NOLA mission.

Click the link below to view the announcement.

BCOAG - NOLA (pdf, 841 KB)


Acting Surgeon General Lushniak Testified on Ebola Response

11/19/2014 - On November 18, 2014, Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. RADM Lushniak provided an overview of the Commissioned Corps and its role in the government response to Ebola both domestically and internationally. He was joined on the panel by Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC, and Dr. Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. C-SPAN has a recording of the hearing posted online.

Surgeon General Lushniak's Written Testimony (pdf, 355 KB)



COA Board of Directors - Call for Nominations

01/26/2015 - Six seats will open for the COA Board of Directors on July 1, 2015. The open seats include: Dental, Engineer, Environmental Health Officer, Scientist, Field Officer (outside of DC), and Retired Officer. Anyone interested in running for election should review the document linked below, which includes guidelines for participation on the Board and the nomination form required for the election. The deadline to submit nominations is March 6.

Board Nomination Form (doc, 29 KB)


COA Releases Strategic Plan for 2015-2019

01/06/2015 - It is here! The new COA 2015-2019 Strategic Plan was released by board chair Captain Sara Newman. The four priority areas are Membership, Visibility, Advocacy, and Branches. The COA Executive Director will create a yearly implementation plan that flows from this larger framework. The Board of Directors will identify annual priorities and specific objectives for committee work to achieve the strategic goals. COA welcomes your feedback and encourages members to participate in local branch activities.

COA Strategic Plan 2015-2019 (pdf, 4.9 MB)

COA Congratulates Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

12/17/2014 - COA congratulates Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy as the 19th U.S. Surgeon General. Born in England, Dr. Murthy grew up in Miami, graduated from Harvard in Biomedical Sciences, and earned his MD and MBA from Yale. He co-founded TrialNetworks, VISIONS, and Doctors for America. More recently, Dr. Murthy was a physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. COA looks forward to working with Surgeon General Murthy to improve the Nation's health and to strengthen the Commissioned Corps and the Office of the Surgeon General.

Meet the New COA Board Chair Captain Sara Newman

10/14/2014 - COA advocates on your behalf since 1951. Remain an active member and encourage your fellow officers to join.

Combined Federal Campaign - use code 42884

10/03/2014 - The annual Combined Federal Campaign is underway. The campaign season runs from September 1 until December 31. Federal employees, including active duty and retired Public Health Service officers, can use CFC code 42884 to support the PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health.

Please remember to notify COA/COF staff that you donated through the CFC and the amount. CFC donation reports often omit the donor names. We want to recognize your generosity.

COA Health Leader of the Year - Call for Nominations

09/24/2014 - The COA Health Leader of the Year Award is the most prestigious award presented by the Association. Established in 1987, the award recognizes individuals who achieved prominence in public health. Persons who have demonstrated leadership and excellence in making notable contributions to the health of the Nation may be nominated for this award. Contributions can be in research, administration, service delivery or some other area of public health. Please submit a short application for your nominee by October 31. View the document below for more information.

Call for Nominations (pdf, 418 KB)

Remembering 911—A Day That Affects Us All

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

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 (pdf, 628 KB)

Development of COA Strategic Plan

08/01/2014 - The COA Board of Directors is launching a new Strategic Planning process.  Our goal is to release the 2015-2019 COA Strategic Plan in early 2015.  Updating the Strategic Plan provides us a great opportunity to think about where we want COA to focus its attention over the next five years.  The plan will also provide a way to track our progress toward achieving our goals.

Our first step is to get your input.  Please take 5-10 minutes to complete the following survey in Survey Monkey.

Please complete the survey by August 31.

CAPT Sara Newman

Chair, COA Board of Directors

COA Strategic Plan Survey

Updates to USPHS Uniform Policy and Service Khakis Refresher

07/02/2014 - The presentation linked below is one of the best, most comprehensive sources of information and guidance regarding uniform requirements in the Corps. It is also up to date. Thanks to LCDRs Scott Steffen and James Lyons for creating the updates and allowing us to post them online.

USPHS Uniform Policy, as of 25 June 2014 (pdf, 3.5 MB)

COA Expands Partnership with the George Washington University

03/04/2014 - Thanks to a partnership with the prestigious George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, COA members are eligible to receive a $7,500 scholarship to attend one of GW's renowned online master's degree programs:

MPH@GW - A Master of Public Health that develops leaders who impact the health of communities worldwide. Learn more.

MHA@GW - An Executive Master of Health Administration for professionals with three or more years of experience in the health care or health services industry who are seeking leadership roles in their organization. Request more information.

Both of these online programs blend top-level curricula, face-to-face interactions and real-world experiences to help you advance your career without putting it on hold.









©2012 Commissioned Officers Association of the USPHS Inc
Revised 01/26/2015