In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, many have been questioning who those officers in blue uniform are or why the U.S Surgeon General wears a Navy uniform? Well, don’t go too far trying to google it, all will be briefly explained in this blog.

The U.S Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is the world’s only national uniformed service devoted to protecting, promoting and advancing the health and safety of a nation. It is part of the nation’s eight uniform services and operates under the umbrella of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Currently, the USPHS has over 6000 commissioned officers that are advancing the nation’s public health by serving in agencies across the government as environmental health officers, physicians, nurses, dentists, engineers, scientists, dietitians, health service officers, pharmacists, veterinarians and therapists.

In 2019, Sydney S. Taylor, then a student at the Indiana University School of Public Health earning her degree in Environmental and Occupational Health interned with the USPHS through the Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (JRCOSTEP) and was assigned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) in Atlanta, GA. These training positions are available to fulltime students who have completed at least 2 years of study in a professionally accredited baccalaureate program in specific health disciplines that meets the USPHS Environmental Health Officer requirements; or students who are enrolled in a master’s level program that meets the USPHS Environmental Health Officer requirements. JRCOSTEPs work in the same exciting federal agencies and program as active duty Commissioned Corps officers. JRCOSTEPs receive the basic pay and allowances of an O-1 (Ensign) officer unless they have prior military service.

EHO JRCOSTEP application window is currently opened through September 30, 2020 for JRCOSTEP opportunities during the summer of 2021. Interested students should submit an application.

The CARES ACT, which was passed into law March 27, 2020 includes the U.S Public Health Service Modernization Act, S.2629, providing for a ready reserve corps to fill the need for an additional commissioned corps for emergency response missions. This means that, graduates interested in joining the USPHS can either commission as active duty officers or reserve officers. The USPHS general application is currently opened for all categories, for more information on how to apply, please visit https://www.usphs.gov/apply-now

Where can students learn more about the U.S Public Health Service Commissioned Corps?

More information about the USPHS can be found at https://www.usphs.gov/

More information about EHOPAC can be found at https://dcp.psc.gov/osg/eho/


Who is our assigned Recruit-An-Environmental Health Officer?

LT Lewis K. Antwi, MPH, MA

Email: lewis.antwi@fda.hhs.gov




Sydney Taylor shares her JRCOSTEP experience with fellow student at the 2020 Indiana University School of Public Health- Bloomington career fair.

LT Antwi & IU student Sydney Taylor

By Lewis Antwi
Lewis Antwi Environmental Health Officer