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COA/COF Name New Executive Director

03/18/2014 - The Commissioned Officers Association and PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health are pleased to announce the engagement of James Tyson Currie as executive director for the combined enterprise. Currie holds a doctoral degree in history from the University of Virginia and is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Dr. Currie was a professor of Political Science/National Security Studies at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University for 18 years. More recently he has worked as legislative director for the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the largest trade association representing the recreational boat building industry, with 1500 members; and prior to that as the director of federal relations at the National Association of State Treasurers. Colonel Currie also worked as a staff member in the U.S. Senate. He is the author of three books and 25 articles.

Colonel Currie was the unanimous choice of the search committee after an exhaustive review of some fifty applicants for the position. He is one of the few applicants meeting all three of the most important criteria identified by the association and foundation boards: uniformed service experience, demonstrated leadership, and success in managing organizations. He has a rich background of accomplishment and possesses the skills necessary to lead COA and COF to continued success in the years ahead.

Currie said that he is honored by his selection to become the executive director for the association and foundation. "It will be the culmination of my career," he said. "I am excited about the opportunity to represent the incredible officers of the U.S. Public Health Service--active and retired--and to furthering the goals of the association and the foundation. Jerry Farrell will be an extremely tough act to follow, as he has been everything you would want in an executive director."

Colonel Currie will replace Farrell who has served as COA/COF executive director since 2001. Colonel Currie will begin work on 1 April. He is COA's fourth executive director since the association was incorporated in 1951.

Columnist George Will Extols Importance of Public Health Practice

03/13/2014 - Syndicated columnist George Will's latest opinion piece, published in today's Washington Post, highlights the importance of aggressive public health education and prevention in leading to real, measureable improvements in population health.

Will begins by noting the positive effect of Surgeon General Luther Terry's report on smoking and health in reducing the percentage of Americans who smoke from 40 percent in 1964 to less than 20 percent today. He goes on to cite the recent study reports of a dramatic reduction in childhood obesity rates since the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Reduce Overweight and Obesity issued in 2001.

Will concludes his column with this important point, too often overlooked in the distribution of resources aimed at improving health: "Although preventive medicine is real, society's level of health does not depend primarily on medicine, which too often must be resorted to when our behavior has forfeited our health." Amen to that.

Click here to read George Will's column...

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Public Health

Surgeon General Nominee Senate Hearing on 4 February

01/28/2014 - The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy to be Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service on February 4, 2014 in Room 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building at 10:30 AM. The hearing is open to the public and COA members are encouraged to attend in uniform to show support for the Corps and give visibility to the Corps as a uniformed service. Follow COA's reports on the hearing on Twitter @coausphs.

Acting Surgeon General Lushniak: "Enough is Enough! End Tobacco Use Now."

01/17/2014 - In a White House ceremony to rollout the report marking the 50th Anniversary of Surgeon General Luther Terry's landmark "Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health", Acting Surgeon General RADM Boris Lushniak called for a smoke free country in a generation. As RADM Lushniak recited the litany of newly discovered adverse health effects of tobacco use, he repeated the urgent call "Enough is enough!"

"The Health Consequences of Smoking - 50 Years of Progess; A Report of the Surgeon General - 2014" provides strong scientific evidence leading to conlusions that "smokers today have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than they did when the first Surgeon General's report was released in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes" said RADM Lushniak. The 1964 report linked cigarette smoking to lung cancer. Today's report adds diabetes, colorectal and liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, age-related macular degeneration, and other conditions to list of diseases that cigarette smoking causes. In addition, the report notes that secondhand smoke exposure is now known to cause strokes in nonsmokers.

Surgeon General Lushniak, while applauding the progress made in 50 years, noted that much remains to be done and called for all Americans to join a sustained effort to make the next generation tobacco-free.

The Commissioned Officers Association is proud to stand with Surgeon General Lushniak and the PHS Commissioned Corps as leaders in the campaign for a tobacco-free generation. Underscoring the importance of the issue to public health, the PHS Commissioned Corps banned all use of tobacco products by PHS officers in uniform as of January 1st; the first of the seven federal uniformed services to take that bold step. COA challenges the other six services to follow the lead of the PHS Commissioned Corps.

Enough is enough!

Obama to Nominate Vivek Hallegere Murthy, MD, MBA as Surgeon General

11/14/2013 - Late this afternoon, the White House announced that President Obama will nominate Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, 36, as the 19th Surgeon General. Dr. Murthy is the Co-Founder and President of Doctors for America, formerly Doctors for Obama, a position he has held since 2009. Doctors for America is fully funded project of the Center for American Progress. Dr. Murthy is also a Hospitalist Attending Physician and Instructor in Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School, a position he has held since 2006. In 2011, Dr. Murthy was appointed to serve as a Member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. Dr. Murthy has been the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of TrialNetworks, formerly known as Epernicus, since 2007. Dr. Murthy co-founded VISIONS Worldwide in 1995, a non-profit organization focused on HIV/AIDS education in India and the United States, where he served as President from 1995 to 2000 and Chairman of the Board from 2000 to 2003. Dr. Murthy received a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.B.A. from Yale School of Management, and an M.D. from Yale School of Medicine.

Military Coaltion Urges Appointment of Surgeon General from Within Career Ranks of PHS Commissioned Corps

07/26/2013 - The Military Coalition (TMC), representing some 35 uniformed services and veterans assocaitions and more than 5.5 million current and former service members and their families has written to President Obama urging the appointment of a career PHS Commissioned Corps officer as the 19th Surgeon General.

TMC's position echoes that of the Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service (COA). COA has also written to the White House and key Members of Congress on this issue (see below).

Organizations and individuals are suggesting names of potential Surgeon General candidates to the White House Personnel Office, including some active duty and retired PHS officers. There is no indication of any timeline for a nomination to be made to the U.S. Senate which must confirm the President's candidate.

Click here to read TMC's letter to the President... (pdf, 332 KB)

COA Calls for Funding of the Public Health Sciences Track

07/09/2013 - COA executive director Jerry Farrell's letter to the editor of the Washington Post calling for funding of the Public Health Sciences Track authorized in the Affordable Care Act was published in today's newspaper.

Click here to read COA's letter to the editor...

COA Urges President to Appoint A Career Officer as Surgeon General

06/18/2013 - The Commissioned Officers Assocation has written to President Obama urging him to adhere to the spirit and clear intent of the law by appointing a career officer from the Regular Corps as the next Surgeon General.

With the resignation of Dr. Regina Benjamin announced last week, the President has the opportunity to de-politicize the Office of Surgeon General and refocus more on the science and less on the politics of public health.

Let us know your thoughts on this on COA's new Twitter account at @COAUSPHS!

Click here to read COA's letter to the President... (pdf, 83 KB)

Benjamin Announces Resignation

06/12/2013 - In a letter to the PHS Commissioned Corps transmitted this afternoon, 18th Surgeon General Regina Benjamin announced her resignation effective 16 July 2013.

Dr. Benjamin's announcement included no specific reason leading to her decision to step down. She was nominted as Surgeon General by President Obama four years ago this month.

In a parallel letter HHS Secretary Sebelius confirmed that Deputy Surgeon General RADM Boris Lushniak will serve as acting Surgeon General until the Senate confirms a successor to Dr. Benjamin.

Dr. Benjamin's legacy as Surgeon General will center on her role as chairperson of the high level committee that produced the National Prevention Strategy.

The Commissioned Officers Association congratulates Surgeon General Benjamin on this occasion and thanks her for her service to the nation. The Association will commence an immediate campaign urging the President to nominate a career officer of the PHS Commissioned Corps as Dr. Benjamin's successor in keeping with the spirit and intent of the law. Appointing a career officer as Surgeon General will be an important first step in distancing politics from public health.


PHS Retiree and Annuitant Notification Letter and Q & A's

12/17/2013 - On January 1, 2014, administration of PHS retiree and annuitant pay will transition from the Public Health Service to the Coast Guard.

  • You will continue to be paid monthly by direct deposit on the first day of the month.
  • You will be mailed a Pay Statement during months that your pay changes.
  • You will be issued an IRS Form 1099R annually in January. Your 1099R for tax year 2013 will arrive in early February from PHS.
  • You will continue to be able to have health care (Tricare Dental, Tricare Prime, and U.S. Family Health Plan) and government insurance (VGLI/NSLI) premiums deducted from your retired pay.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs will interface with the Coast Guard Pay & Personnel Center in terms of offsets of pay and concurrent receipt.
The appearance of the Pay Statement will be different and forms used to administrate your pay will change. The Coast Guard Pay & Personnel Center will assist you with questions about your pay. After January 1, 2014, contact the Coast Guard by calling 800-772-8724 (toll-free) or email PPC-DG-RAS@uscg.mil.

Please download the two linked documents (Letter and Q & A) for your review.

PHS Retiree Pay Transfer to CG Letter and Q & A's (pdf, 2.9 MB)

COA Urges Senate to Reject Retirement Pay Cut

12/16/2013 - The Commissioned Officers Association of the US Public Health Service, working in coordination with other members of The Military Coalition, has informed the Senate of our strong opposition to uniformed service retirement pay cuts proposed in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, passed by the House of Representatives last week, would reduce uniformed service member's annual retired pay cost-of-living increases by one percent until age 62. This provision would affect current active duty service members and retirees under the age of 62. The result will be a loss of tens of thousands of dollars for service members retiring at 20 years of service.

The proposal overturns longstanding law and radically alters the compensation and benefits promised to service members. The legislation would also undermine the congressionally mandated and presidentially appointed Military Compensation and Retirment Modernization Commission (MCRMC) ongoing review which is predicated on "grandfathering" any recommended changes to uniformed service compensation and benefits.

COA members are urged to contact their senators and state your opposition to this proposed change in uniformed service retirement compensation.

Act today! The Senate will vote on this legislation no later than Wednesday!

Click here to read TMC's letter to Congress...

PHS Officers Cannot be Furloughed - DHHS Finally Makes it Official

09/30/2013 - In the eleventh hour before a pending government shutdown at midnight tonight, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has finally issued guidance on "Contingency Staffing Plans for Operations in the Absence of Enacted Annual Appropriations", or more commonly, a government "shutdown."

The document specifically notes on page 5 that persons "who would not be furloughed" as "authorized by law" includes "Officers appointed by the President...and members of the uniformed services (Commissioned Corps)."

It is important to note that while this DHHS guidance applies specifically to the 4879 PHS officers assigned within DHHS itself, the underlying law applies equally to all 6700 PHS officers regardless of where assigned, just as COA has always maintained.

Click here to read the DHHS guidance....


2014 COA Board of Directors Election is Now Open

03/21/2014 - The 2014 COA Board of Directors election is now open. Click the link below to view the nominee's profiles and cast your vote. In many cases, contested vacancies are won by a mere handful of votes. Your vote does count. Please use it! Vote today for the PHS officers who will help guide your COA for the next three years. The deadline for voting is May 2, 2014.

Click here to cast your vote for the 2014 COA Board of Directors Election

COA Branch Market Place

03/20/2014 -

COA Branch Marketplace (pdf, 88 KB)

2014 Oklahoma Area Dining Out

02/18/2014 - The Oklahoma Commissioned Officers Association is hosting "2014 Oklahoma Area Dining Out" on April 5th, 2014. Please click the link below for more details.

2014 Oklahoma Area Dining Out (pdf, 155 KB)

Call for Nominations for the 2014 BCOAG Annual Awards

02/06/2014 - The Black Commissioned Officers Advisory Group (BCOAG) is seeking nominations for the Hildrus A. Poindexter Award, the George I. Lythcott Award, and the Retired PHS Officers Recognition Award. These awards recognize and honor contributions made by individuals who have had a substantial impact on the mission of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), other federal government agencies as well as community health care organizations. Award nominations are due Monday, March 31, 2014 and should be submitted electronically to CDR Tarsha Cavanaugh at bcoagawards@gmail.com. Self-nominations are accepted. Nomination packages are available at http://www.usphs.gov/corpslinks/bcoag/ . Questions regarding the nomination process should be directed to CDR Tarsha Cavanaugh at bcoagawards@gmail.com.

Registration Open for 2014 USPHS Symposium

02/03/2014 - Join us in Raleigh, NC on June 10-12 for the 49th annual USPHS Scientific & Training Symposium. Follow the link below to register online today. Presenters will include Tom Frieden of the CDC (invited), retired RADM Fitzhugh Mullan of George Washington University, Dr. Arthur Kellermann of USUHS, Dr. William Lanier of the Mayo Clinic, and senior PHS leaders. The meeting is driving distance from the DC and Atlanta metro areas. Hotel per diem is a low $96 per night (plus taxes). Attend to receive continuing education credits, get the latest from the Corps, and meet friends and local health professionals.

USPHS Scientific & Training Symposium

COA Seeks Nominations for Board of Directors

01/31/2014 - The following seats on the COA Board of Directors will be up for election this spring: Dietitian, HSO, Nurse, Medical, one Retired Officer, and one Field Officer (1). Incumbents in seats are completing their first three year terms and are eligible for re-election to a second term. The Retired Officer member of the COA Board of Directors also serve as appointed Trustees of the PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation. For detail and criteria, click the link below.

Call for Nominations - Board of Directors (pdf, 222 KB)

50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health

01/16/2014 - The Office of the Surgeon General is pleased to announce the release of the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General's Report: The Health Consequences of Smoking--50 Years of Progress at The White House on Friday, January 17, 2014. This report will highlight the half a century of progress in tobacco control and prevention that has taken place since the 1964 release of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health.

Watch the live Webcast this Friday at 9:30am EST at http://whitehouse.gov/live

As we approach this historic event, we want to make you aware of the new 50th Anniversary Video and Podcast Series that has been added to the website. You can learn about the progress of tobacco control through interviews from key leaders in the fight against tobacco. We are currently featuring Tips ad participants Terrie Hall, Brandon Carmichael and Roosevelt Smith, discussing their experiences during and after the Tips campaign. Stay tuned, more video will be released throughout 2014!

Our website has also been updated with downloadable resources to help promote the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health. Available resource can be found at: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/initiatives/tobacco/resources.html

We hope that you will consider helping us get the message out. We have also developed the following social media tools you can use to participate and share the event with others.

Social Media Resources

  • Twitter
  • Twibbon
  • Photo Sharing Initiative

For full details, click the link below.

50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health (pdf, 272 KB)

JOAG 2014 Call for Award Nominations

01/13/2014 - The JOAG Excellence Award recognizes a non-voting junior officer at the rank of O-4 or below in the USPHS Commissioned Corps, who is an active participant of JOAG, for demonstrating outstanding, dedicated effort, leadership ability, and commitment to JOAG through active committee or workgroup participation. Self-nominations welcome.

The JOAG Junior Officer of the Year Award recognizes an active duty junior officer at the rank of O-4 or below in the USPHS Commissioned Corps who has made a significant contribution to the overall mission of the U.S. Public Health Service. Self-nominations welcome.

The JOAG VADM Richard H. Carmona Inspiration Award recognizes an active duty or retired senior officer at the rank of O-5 or above in the USPHS Commissioned Corps who exemplifies outstanding leadership by example, mentorship and empowerment of junior officers, unwavering support of the Commissioned Corps and its mission, and overall inspiration and motivation to the PHS community. Nominations only accepted from junior officers (at the rank of O-4 or below in the USPHS Commissioned Corps).

If you know any outstanding officers deserving the recognition of these awards, please see the JOAG Awards website at http://www.usphs.gov/corpslinks/JOAG/awards.aspx or the attached documents for details. You can also contact one of the JOAG Awards Committee Co-Chairs, LCDR Nichols Erin at igd1@cdc.gov or LCDR Adora Ndu at adora.ndu@fda.hhs.gov, or one of the JOAG Award Leads listed below for nomination details. Nominations are due to the appropriate JOAG Award Lead listed below no later than COB on February 14, 2014.

Send nominations or questions for the JOAG Excellence Award to:

LT Hong Vu Email: hong.vu@fda.hhs.gov; Phone: 301-796-7401

Send nominations or questions for the Junior Officer of the Year Award to:

LCDR Timothy Albright Email: timothy.albright@fda.hhs.gov; Phone: 240-402-1413

Send nominations or questions for the VADM Richard H. Carmona Inspiration Award to:

LT Sara Azimi-Bolourian Email: sara.azimi-bolourian@samhsa.hhs.gov; Phone: 240-276-2708

For full details and criteria click the link below.

2014 JOAG Call for Award Nominations (pdf, 257 KB)

National COA is Seeking Nominations for Branch of the Year

01/13/2014 - 12/26/2013 - National COA is seeking nominations for Branch of the Year Award. Click below for full details and criteria. The deadline to submit a nomination is April 18, 2014.

Branch of the Year Nominations (pdf, 358 KB)

Call for Nominations for PPAC Physician Awards for 2014

01/09/2014 - The Physicians Professional Advisory Committee (PPAC) to the Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) is seeking nominations for five physician awards. These awards will be presented at the USPHS Scientific and Training Symposium (formerly the USPHS Professional Conference) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The awards will honor either Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) civil service employees or physicians of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service (Corps).

Click the link below for full details and criteria.

2014 PPAC Physician Awards Evaluation Criteria (pdf, 36 KB)

Acting Surgeon General Interviewed on EIC TV

12/18/2013 - RADM Boris Lushniak, Acting Surgeon General, USPHS, was interviewed in a one-hour special by EIC TV. The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC) is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 by leaders in the entertainment industry to provide information, awareness and understanding of major health and social issues among the entertainment industries and to audiences at large. RADM Lushniak spoke with an audience of high school and college junior reporters.

For a video of the interview, visit EIC TV.

Capitol Hill Briefing on Value of PHS Commissioned Corps

11/25/2013 - COA affiliate the PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation held a Capitol Hill briefing on November 21. Hosted by Senator Kay Hagan (NC), the briefing "Value of the PHS Commissioned Corps for American Health and Security" brought together Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, Mike Hayden of MOAA, Professor Muhiuddin Haider of the University of Maryland, and freelance journalist David Tobenkin. Below is a press release for the briefing.

Press Release for Capitol Hill Briefing (pdf, 133 KB)

COA Testifies before Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission

11/14/2013 - On Wednesday, 13 November, COA executive director Jerry Farrell gave testimony before the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC)convened in Rosslyn, VA. The MCRMC was established by the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act and appointed by the president charged with recommending actions to improve compensation and benefits for the uniformed services. The Commission's report is due in May 2014.

The Commission is examining all aspects of uniformed service compensation and benefits including base pay, special pays, cost of living increases, housing allowances, retirement pay, commissaries and exchanges, healthcare, and other programs such as the GI Bill.

COA's testimony responded specifically to one line in the president's instructions to the Commission to "examine differences between the armed services and the other uniformed services." There are only two "other uniformed services", the two smallest of the seven, the NOAA and PHS Commissioned Corps. The Association's concern is that the president's instruction could be interpreted as an invitation to segregate PHS and NOAA Commissioned Corps compensation and benefits from the five armed services. PHS Commissioned Corps compensation has been aligned with the other services since 1911.

Farrell's testimony suggested that rather than differences, the Commission should focus on the similarities between the PHS Commissioned Corps and the other uniformed services. Farrell cited the long history of PHS Commissioned Corps interoperability with the military, PHS deployability, and the fact that public health remains the most fundamental component of national security.

Clcik here to read COA's Statement for the Record before the MCRMC... (pdf, 103 KB)

Briefing on Value of the Commissioned Corps to American Health and Security

10/28/2013 - The PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health will host a public briefing on November 21 regarding the value of the USPHS Commissioned Corps. The briefing will be held November 21 at 9:00-10:30 a.m. at the Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC-212, 1st St SE, Washington, DC 20004.

Heading into its 125th anniversary, the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is led by the Surgeon General and its officers serve as America's Health Responders. They are uniformed personnel working to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our Nation. Speakers will discuss what the Commissioned Corps does for the country, how officers accomplish their missions, and the future of the Corps.

Active duty officers can attend the briefing. They should seek approval from supervisors. RSVP to John McElligott at jmcelligott(at)coausphs.org

Participate in a timely discussion about Americas Health Responders, led by the Surgeon General.

10/28/2013 - The PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health will host a public briefing on November 21 at 9:00-10:30 a.m. regarding the value of the USPHS Commissioned Corps. Heading into its 125th anniversary, the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is led by the Surgeon General and its officers serve as Americas Health Responders. They are uniformed personnel working to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our Nation. Many officers are adjunct professors at schools and programs of public health. Some use experience as officers in the Epidemic Intelligence Service to launch successful careers as academic researchers or local, state, or federal health officials. Speakers will discuss what the Commissioned Corps does for the country, how officers accomplish their missions, and the future of the Corps.

Active duty officers can attend the event. They should seek approval from supervisors.

PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation

COA Stands with The Military Coalition to Demand an End to Shutdown

10/15/2013 - COA Executive Director Jerry Farrell and Deputy Executive Director John McElligott joined other leaders of The Military Coalition Tuesday morning at a press conference at the Washington, DC World War II Memorial to demand an end to the government shutdown and resolution of the debt ceiling issue. Speakers at the press event emphasized the damage to national security and the damage to those in uniform who protect national security caused by the shutdown and failure to resolve the debt ceiling. The PHS and NOAA Commissioned Corps were specifically memtioned by speakers who noted that the two smallest uniformed service were not included in the Pay Our Military Act and remain on the job without pay.

The Military Coalition to Demand an End to Shutdown

Supporting The Surgeon General's Every Body Walk! Initiative

09/19/2013 - On October 9th, local COA branches have an opportunity to support the PHS mission and the Surgeon Generals Every Body Walk! Initiative by getting involved with Walk to School Day. As Acting Surgeon General, RADM Lushniak is continuing the partnership developed by Surgeon General Regina Benjamin with the Every Body Walk Collaborative and its more than 100 partners to support walking and walkable communities.

Only 13 percent of children walk or bike to school, compared with 44 percent a generation ago. Walk to School Day encourages walking to school and builds awareness about the need for walkable communities. In 2012, more than 4,200 events took place across all fifty states and the District of Columbia. This year, we are encouraging Commissioned Corps Officers to support the Surgeon Generals Every Body Walk! Initiative by participating in an already organized walk (find Walk to School Day walks here: http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/go/whos-walking/2013) or by organizing a walk in your community (info available here: http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/get-set).

Please be prepared to get a count of the number of officers who have either participated in a scheduled walk or organized one on their own. It is important that we are able to inform both your fellow officers and the Surgeon General of the many efforts made to support his initiative.

Walk to School Day

COA's District of Columbia Branch 6th Annual Golf Outing

08/27/2013 - COA's District of Columbia Branch announces its 6th Annual DC-COA Golf Outing to be held on Monday, September 30, 2013 at the Maryland National Golf Club. HURRY! Registration deadline is September 23, 2013. Click below for full details and the registration form.

6th Annual DC-COA Golf Outing Registration Form (pdf, 48 KB)

PHS Scientific and Training Symposium Will Go On

04/22/2013 - COA/F executive director dispels rumors about the annual PHS Scientific and Training Symposium being cancelled and encourages officers to attend.


COA Congratulates New Engineer and Nurse Chief Professional Officers

12/03/2013 - The Acting Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, has announced the appointment of Rear Admiral Randall J.F. Gardner as PHS Chief Engineer and Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams as the new PHS Chief Nurse Officer. Both RADM Gardner and RADM Trent-Adams are COA members.

RADM Gardner replaces RADM Sven Rodenbeck who retired earlier this year. RADM Trent-Adams replaces RADM Kerry Nesseler.

RADM Gardner is assigned as Senior Engineer Consultant in the Office of Environmental Heath and Engineering (OEHE), and Acting Deputy Director OEHE, Indian Health Service. Previously, RADM Gardner has served in the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, and HHS Office of the Assitant Secretary for Health's Regional office in Dallas, TX.

RADM Trent-Adams is assigned as Deputy Associate Administrator in the HIV/AIDS Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration. Prior to joining the PHS Commissioned Corps in 1992, RADM Trent-Adams was a nurse officer in the U.S. Army. She also served as a cancer research nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center and completed two internships in the U.S. Senate where she focused on health, defense, and veterans issues.

COA extends our congratulations to RADMs Gardner and Trent-Adams.

RADM James Steele, USPHS (Ret.) Dies

11/11/2013 - Rear Admiral James Steele, USPHS (Ret.), the "Father of Veterinary Public Health" and the first Public Health Service Chief Veterinary Officer, passed away yesterday in Houston, TX. Admiral Steele was 100 years old.

Admiral Steele joined the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps as a sanitarian (there were no provisions for veterinarians in the Corps at the time)in 1943, became the first director of the PHS Office of Veterinary Public Health in 1946, and was one of the first staff of the new Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. At Admiral Steele's insistence, Veterinary Officers were soon enrolled in the Epidemic Intellgence Service (EIS) at CDC.

Admiral Steele was promoted to Assitant Surgeon General in 1968 and retired from the Commissioned Corps in 1971. He went on to teach at the University of Texas School of Public Health where he continued his groundbreaking work in the field of zoonotic public health that earned him the title of "Father of Veterinary Public Health."

Admiral Steele joined the Commissioned Officers Association in 1945 and remained a Life Member until his death. His membership passes to his surviving spouse, Brigitte. Funeral arrangments are pending.

PHS Commissioned Corps Pay Following the Government Shutdown

10/17/2013 - Now that Congress and the President have acted to enact a Continuing Resolution providing appropriated funding for government operations ending the government shutdownPHS Commissioned Corps officers may be expected to be paid as follows:

1. The Compensation Branch is working diligently to get Corps officers paid on Nov 1.

2. However, any changes to pay that were requested during October (e.g., change in dependent status, additional witholdings, new board certifications, etc.) will not be processed in time for the Nov 1 payroll - officers will have to wait until Dec 1 for these changes to take effect. Entitlements that should have taken effect in October will be paid retroactively in a future payroll.

3. COA urges officers to refrain from calling the Compensation Branch with questions - any time spent answering phone calls will limit their ability to meet Nov 1 payroll.

This is unofficial information. The Office of the Surgeon General hopes to make an official announcement regarding pay soon.

Commissioned Corps Issues Guidance for Officers During Shutdown

10/08/2013 - The Office of the Surgeon General has issued guidance to the Commissioned Corps regarding the Corps status, including leave, deployments, and pay during a government shutdown. The OSG message, sent on October 7th, reads as follows:

Fellow Commissioned Corps Officers,

Due to a lapse of appropriated funds, a government shutdown occurred Oct 1, 2013. Many of the populations served by the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps are impacted by changes to the current government operating status. Many colleagues as well will deal with great uncertainty. As a Commissioned Corps officer, embrace your duty to serve, especially in times of greatest need. We have an opportunity to make a positive impact -- be flexible, resilient, and focused on your mission. The mission may include 'other duties as assigned' and functions that are most needed within the Department, OpDivs, and StaffDivs. We are here to serve as an asset to the Department and the non-HHS organizations in which we serve-- stand ready. To address many of the frequently asked questions received, the following information is provided to clarify roles, responsibilities and duties as we continue to support the mission.

Summary of specific guidance applicable to the PHS Commissioned Corps during a lapse in appropriations:

Exemption from Furlough: Officers of the PHS Commissioned Corps continue to work during a lapse in appropriations, notwithstanding provisions of the Antideficiency Act that generally prohibit the Government from incurring obligations in advance of appropriations,31 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1)(b), or accepting voluntary services, 31 U.S.C. § 1342, except where authorized by law. Commissioned Officers are exempt from (and not subject to) furlough.

[The legal basis for this determination is that there is no affirmative authority in statute to place members of the PHS Commissioned Corps in furlough status. The statutory authority to hire uniformed service members, coupled with the absence of any authority to place them in a nonpay status in response to a temporary funding lapse or deficiency, constitutes an implicit authorization by law to incur salary obligations for uniformed services members during such a lapse or deficiency. Thus, subject to a change in the law, members of the PHS Commissioned Corps may not be furloughed, even during an appropriations lapse or deficiency.]

Pay Status: PHS Commissioned Corps officers will not receive pay during a lapse in appropriations; however Corps officers will ultimately be paid under existing pay rules by virtue of our status as exempt from furlough after a new appropriation is signed into law. In rare instances in special programs, an officer may be funded via funding sources other than annual appropriations, such as user fees or mandatory funding sources. This unique situation should be clarified through your agency liaisons.

Leave Status and Requests: Policy governing leave remains the same during the lapse in appropriations. Annual leave must be requested and approved in advance and the authority to approve an officer's leave is vested in the leave granting authority within your agency. Consistent with established Commissioned Corps policy, leave may be granted, denied, or revoked at any time by your leave granting authority regardless of the appropriations status of the federal government.

Deployments: Officers are expected to maintain readiness and may still be deployed for emergencies even during a lapse in appropriations. Given that the mechanism of supervisory approval may be altered due to furloughs, it is an officer's responsibility to obtain proper clearance from their supervisory chain and in some cases agency leadership approval, in the event of a deployment request.

For your convenience, click on the link below to see a copy of the Corps Annual Leave Policy, CC362.01. Commissioned Corps leadership encourages you to monitor the news for regular updates on the status of government operations. Stand by for additional communications from the Department, your Agency and the Corps. Your continued patience and professionalism are greatly appreciated. Again, thank you for your service.

RADM Boris Lushniak, MD, MPH RADM, Surgeon General (Acting)

Scott Giberson, RPh, MPH, USPHS Deputy Surgeon General (Acting), USPHS

Corps Annual Leave Policy, CC362.01 (pdf, 101 KB)

NARFE Compares PHS Commissioned Corps and Civil Service Compensation and Benefits

09/26/2013 - The October issue of narfe, the magazine of the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), includes an article comparing compensation and benefits of PHS Commissioned Corps officers with their civil service colleagues. The author, free-lance journalist David Tobenkin, provides an unbiased synopsis of the differences between Corps officers and civil servants, and the reasons those differences exist.

COA executive director Jerry Farrell was interviwed by the author and COA provided a wealth of information regarding the Corps for Mr. Tobenkin's research. One unanswered question remains; and that is why did the narfe editors restrict the Mr. Tobenkin's research and analysis specifically to one uniformed service, when all seven uniformed service members often work alongside civil service colleagues - doing the same work.

For the record, COA deplores the way Congress and the Administration are treating our federal civil service colleagues. Multi-year pay freezes and unpaid furloughs, and now the threat of a government shutdown and more furloughs are disrespectful of our hardworking friends and co-workers who do not wear a uniform. COA stands shoulder to shoulder with our civil service colleagues in demanding an end to such abuse.

Click here to read the NARFE article...

Coast Guard Taking Over Pay for PHS Retirees and Annuitants

09/10/2013 - Effective January 1, 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard Pay & Personnel Center will assume responsibility for processing pay for retired PHS officers and their surviving annuitants. The PHS Commissioned Corps Compensation Team is in the process of transferring payroll files and records to the Coast Guard in preparation for this transition. Below is a link to the PHS letter to retirees and annuitants. If you are a retiree or annuitant, read it today.

PHS Letter to PHS Retirees and Annuitants (pdf, 332 KB)

Study Released on Value of Commissioned Corps

07/25/2013 - The University of Maryland School of Public Health released a study on the value and contributions of the USPHS Commissioned Corps. The author, Muhiuddin Haider, PhD, examined quantitative and qualitative data regarding the cost of a Commissioned Corps officer, the quality of work performed, management structure of the Corps, and much more.

Dr. Haider wrote, "The effectiveness, efficiency, efficacy, and comprehensive value of the USPHS CC cannot be determined based on cost factors alone, although almost all previous studies of the Corps have relied solely on this single data point. There exist in the federal workforce too many variables, too many inconsistencies, too many un-measurable attributes, and too many contraindications to make any meaningful evaluation based on cost alone, much less useful in assessing overall value and contribution to national health and security."

The study compares characteristics of Commissioned Corps officers and civil servants and includes recommendations to improve the form, function, and impact of the USPHS Commissioned Corps on the health of the American public. Visit the PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation linked below for more information about the study, including short and long versions of the findings.

PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation

CAPT David Goldman - New CPO for the Medical Category

07/22/2013 - On July 19, Acting U.S. Surgeon General RADM Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH, announced CAPT David Goldman, MD, MPH, as the new Chief Professional Officer (CPO) for the Medical Category. As CPO CAPT Goldman serves as the primary point of contact between the Office of the Surgeon General and the medical category and will provide leadership and direction for the category.

CAPT Goldman is currently the assistant administrator for the Office of Public Health Science at the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the U.S. Department of Agricultures public health agency. In this role he is one of approximately 20 executives managing FSIS and its nearly 10,000 employees and budget of $1 billion. He was formerly director of the Human Health Sciences Division at FSIS. He also served as the FSIS acting administrator from January, 2007 through July, 2007.

CAPT Goldman joined the Commissioned Corps in February, 2002. Prior to that he worked at the Virginia Department of Health and practiced for ten years in the US Army Medical Corps. He is board-certified in Family Medicine and General Preventive Medicine/Public Health.

Used Uniform Shop to CLose After 23 Years

06/03/2013 - The DC Metro COA Branch has announced the permanent closing of the PHS Commissioned Corps Used Uniform Shop on Friday, June 14th. A decommissioning ceremony will take place in the Parklawn Building at 10AM.

The Used Uniform Shop has been in operation since November, 1990 and has provided a generation of PHS officers with reasonably priced gently used uniforms. The shop must close due to renovations of the Parklwn Building and the managers have been unsuccessful in finding a new location.

Everyone can bring a bag and fill it with uniform goodies for $10. Anything left at the end of the ceremony will be destroyed.

National COA congratulates the Used Uniform Shop for its years of service to the PHS Commissioned Corps.

TRICARE Waives Referrals in West Region

05/08/2013 - The Tricare Management Activity has released details on how uniformed service beneficiaries in the West Region can access specialty health care without first receiving approval by Tricare West Region contract manager UnitedHealth Military & Veterans.

Tricare Prime customers who are referred to a specialist by their primary care provider should ask their doctor for a paper copy of their referral - or have it faxed to the specialist - and have them complete a copy of a waiver letter from UnitedHealthcare, available at www.uhcmilitarywest.com.

The waivers will be available through at least May 18, according to a letter sent from Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson to the military services on May 2.

Tricare officials said the unprecedented move was necessary to ease a referral backlog that has mounted since UnitedHealthcare assumed responsibility for the West Region contract on April 1.

Woodson described "inordinate delays" resulting form the contractor's "failure to meet the contract requirements for referral and authorization management."

In addition to the delays in referral care, UnitedHealth's call center and website are experiencing tie-ups with customer service, with some callers being placed on hold for more than an hour.

A UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans spokesman said last week that since the company took over management of the contract, its call centers have received 531,000 calls with an average wait time of about five minutes.

TMA officials said they are working with UnitedHealthcare to address the problems, and Woodson said the waiver period could be extended if the backlog is not adequately reduced by May 18.

The waiver does not apply to beneficiaries using Tricare Standard, Tricare For Life or Prime enrollees in the U.S. Family Health Plan, available to some beneficiaries in Washington state.

- From Navy Times News

Dr. C. Everett Koop National Memorial Service

04/09/2013 - The Dr. C. Everett Koop National Memorial Service was conducted on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA. A video of the service is provided here. The video is three hours long. The PHS Ensemble and Honor Cadre participated in the service. The Surgeons General tribute led by VADM Regina Benjamin, USPHS and accompanied by Surgeons General David Satcher and Antonia Novello and Acting Surgeons General Ken Moritsugu and Steven Galson begins at time 1:36:00 into the video.


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.

Foundation Releases 2014 Dependent Scholarship Application

02/18/2014 - COA affiliate the PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation released the 2014 Dependent Scholarship application due May 2. Eligible applicants are dependents of COA members in good standing. A change from previous years is the essay, which asks students to identify what they intend to accomplish with their degree and how their area of focus relates to any of the PHS categories (e.g., physician, dentist, nurse, engineer, etc.). The Foundation thanks local branches of COA and individual members who donate money to support the Dependent Scholarship.

Link to Dependent Scholarship Application

2014 USPHS Music Ensemble Calendar Now Available

01/03/2014 - The USPHS Music Ensemble is proud to announce that a 2014 calendar is now available for purchase! This is a lovely collection of photos of PHS officers in all aspects of their lives. Start the New Year off right with a calendar that will make you proud to be a PHS Officer and inspire you to strive for excellence. Ask a Music Ensemble member for information, or reach out to one of the POCs listed on the attached order form. In the DC Metro area and a limited number of other localities, there are officers with a supply where you can obtain your copy. Don’t delay as supplies are limited! If you are outside of one of the duty stations listed on the order form, you can order by mail. Please visit www.PHSEnsemble.org for more information.

For questions: Please contact CDR Karen Munoz at Karen.Munoz@cms.hhs.gov or 410-786-1267

Order Form (pdf, 269 KB)

COA Seeks Nominations for Board of Directors

12/26/2013 - COA is seeking nominations for the Board of Directors. For full details and criteria, please click the link below. Deadline is March 14, 2014.

COA Seeks Nominations for Board of Directors (pdf, 222 KB)

The Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Officers Foundation (COF) is Seeking Nominations for the 2014 Carruth Wagner and Mabel May Wagner Awards - Deadline is March 21, 2014

12/26/2013 - The Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Officers Foundation (COF) is seeking Nominations for the 2014 Carruth Wagner and Mabel May Wagner Awards. Deadline for submission of Nominations: March 21, 2014. For further details and criteria, click on the link below

Nominations for the 2014 Carruth Wagner and Mabel May Wagner Awards (pdf, 546 KB)

COA Seeks Nominations for Board of Directors

12/26/2013 - COA is seeking nominations for the Board of Directors. For full details and criteria, please click the link below. Deadline is March 14, 2014.

COA Seeks Nominations for the Board of Directors  (pdf, 222 KB)

MPH@GW - Master of Public Health Online

12/02/2013 - The MPH@GW is a completely online Master of Public Health degree offered by the George Washington University School of Public Health & Health Services. It offers flexibility for PHS officers whose schedules may not allow for attending an in-person MPH program. An MPH may be the boost needed for competitive promotions. COA members who sign up will receive a $7500 scholarship.

Click here for details about the MPH@GW program.

COA/COF Executive Director Search

12/02/2013 - The PHS Commissioned Officers Association and Foundation announce a search for a new executive director. The COA and COF boards have appointed a search committee and engaged the services of an association executive search firm to conduct a national search for a new executive director. The vacancy announcement and full position description are available at the link below. Inquires may be directed to EDCommofficers@gmail.com

Click here for the vacancy announcement and position description... (pdf, 42 KB)

Farrell to Retire - Search Launched for New Executive Director

11/01/2013 - PHS Commissioned Officers Association and Foundation executive director Jerry Farrell has announced his intention to step down in the spring of 2014. Publicly announcing his decision on the 12th anniversary of his employment with COA and COF, Farrell stated that "Serving as COA/COF executive director has been a privilege and honor. And I want to thank the COA and COF boards for the opportunity to serve as the enterprise executive director for the last twelve years. Much has been accomplished and I am proud of that record; but much remains to be done. I am confident that my successor will be able to help propel the PHS Commissioned Corps to achieve its full potential in ensuring both the nation's public health security as well as global health security."

The COA and COF boards have appointed a search committee and engaged the services of an association executive search firm to conduct a national search for a new executive director. The vacancy announcement and full position description are available at the link below.

Inquires may be directed to EDCommofficers@gmail.com

Click here for the vacancy announcement and position description... (pdf, 42 KB)

Foundation Announces Koop Living Legacy Fund

08/20/2013 - The PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health announces the C. Everett Koop Living Legacy Fund. The Koop Fund honors the 13th Surgeon General and ensures his commitment to the Commissioned Corps and public health continues through the generosity of active duty and retired Corps officers and friends of public health. Young officers in every uniformed service need training and professional development. In a changing world, new skills and perspectives emerge that influence the services Commissioned Corps officers deliver to their patients and communities.

The Koop Fund will support: junior Commissioned Corps officer scholarships and continuing education, research and reports advancing public health and the Corps, and a seminar series devoted to public health topics.

RADM Jerrold M. Michael wrote, "Each of our young officers have the leadership skills within them that will be needed to address future challenges. Our opportunity - as current leaders of the PHS Commissioned Corps - is to invest now in that future leadership potential." Invest in junior officers and help connect the general public with the Commissioned Corps.

Click here for details and to donate to the Koop Living Legacy Fund.


04/29/2013 - The Basic and Applied Sciences Professional Advisory Group (BASPAG) provides advice to the Surgeon General, through the Health Services Professional Advisory Committee (HS PAC), and the Health Services Chief Professional Officer on professional and personnel issues related to Public Health Service officers working in basic and applied science disciplines. Selections will be made by the BASPAG Voting Members and will be based on the nominees’ commitment to public health, to advancing the goals of fellow officers in the basic and applied science disciplines, and other specified criteria (e.g., prior involvement with BASPAG, discipline, gender, and minority representation). Click the link below for full details.

BASPAG Self-Nomination Form for Voting Membership (pdf, 230 KB)









©2012 Commissioned Officers Association of the USPHS Inc
Revised 03/21/2014