Today, the Trump Administration recognized and thanked the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps at its Headquarters, as the USPHS continues to deploy more than two-thirds of its force to support the fight against the COVID-19 public health emergency. Vice President Pence met with Commissioned Corps leadership to discuss the future of USPHS with the establishment of a trained and deployable Ready Reserve Corps to provide surge capacity to deploy clinical care and health professionals for both domestic and global response efforts.
“Creating a Ready Reserve for the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps will improve our capability to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and future public health emergencies,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “One of HHS’s paramount responsibilities is to protect Americans from public health threats like infectious diseases, and Congress and the Trump Administration have come together to give us a new capability for accomplishing that mission with the Ready Reserve. The men and women of the Commissioned Corps have effectively protected Americans’ health for more than a century, and having a reserve element will prepare them for another century of lifesaving service.”
During the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides the authority to re-establish the Ready Reserve Corps. Like other uniformed services, the Ready Reserve Corps will provide trained and ready personnel available on short notice to fill critical public health needs. “Through the COVID-19 pandemic we have been reminded having a Reserve Corps is critical to our emergency response capabilities and will augment our capacity to strategically address public health needs across the nation,” said the head of the service ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D., assistant secretary for health. “The Ready Reserve will also provide opportunities for public health professionals who can commit to part-time active duty positions to serve their country.”
USPHS Commissioned Corps’ deployments have increased more than 44% over the past six years in support of critical national health security missions such as COVID-19 and the Ebola response. More than 4,500 of the 6,100 Public Health Service officers have deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic in support of our worldwide efforts, including deploying to the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan and repatriating Americans to our military bases. Commissioned Corps officers have assisted community-based testing sites with testing and providing infection control and clinical care to long-term care facilities, hospitals, and field hospitals in hard-hit communities across 28 states, four territories, and numerous Tribes.
“The USPHS Commissioned Corps are America’s Health Responders, and they’ve been on the front lines of our whole-of-America response to the COVID-19 pandemic since day one,” said Surgeon General VADM Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “USPHS’ unique and historic service will be augmented by a long-needed Ready Reserve Corps and this activation will ensure a robust response to the public health needs of the future.”
The CARES Act gave the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service statutory authority to re-establish the reserve component and provide compensation and benefits. The USPHS Commissioned Corps will commission its first officers into the Ready Reserve Corps beginning in Spring 2021. Trained and ready personnel will fill critical public health needs and will:
- Support the USPHS Commissioned Corps’ capacity to respond to regional, national, and global health emergencies and improve access to health services;
- Preserve clinical care positions by maintaining a surge capacity of health professionals available for deployment without jeopardizing the service of clinicians in hard to fill roles;
- Offer an opportunity to serve for mission-driven clinical and public health professionals who cannot commit to a full-time active duty position in the USPHS Commissioned Corps; and
- Enable access to highly specialized skill sets that would be impractical in full-time active duty positions.
The USPHS Commissioned Corps will accept Ready Reserve Corps applications online beginning in Fall 2020. The Corps is looking for service-driven individuals who desire to work in public health programs and clinical settings. For more information, please visit www.USPHS.gov.
About the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is a team of more than 6,100 full-time health professional officers from 11 professional categories dedicated to promoting and advancing public health and disease prevention programs. As one of America’s eight uniformed services, the USPHS Commissioned Corps fills essential public health leadership, clinical and service roles within Federal agencies and programs, including the Indian Health Service, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bureau of Prisons, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. The USPHS Commissioned Corps is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is overseen by the Assistant Secretary for Health and U.S. Surgeon General.