When you join the Commissioned Corps, you become part of a dedicated team of professionals who work to improve the health of individuals, communities, and the Nation.
Meet some of the environmental health officers in the Commissioned Corps below, or visit the Environmental Health Professional Advisory Committee Web site.
Lieutenant Commander Kelli D. Stamper
District Environmental Health Officer Indian Health Service, Office of Environmental Health & Engineering
A passion for protecting public health
As a student at Eastern Kentucky University, LCDR Stamper thought she would eventually practice environmental law to prosecute corporate environmental polluters. But her studies brought her to the realization that a career in prevention better suited her ambitions. A USPHS Commissioned Corps Officer Student Training and Extern Program (COSTEP) externship in Santa Fe, NM, confirmed her passion for public service. As part of her current assignment with the IHS, LCDR Stamper oversees environmental health services to 34 tribes throughout Nevada, Utah, and part of California. Her 12-year career as a USPHS officer includes stops at duty stations in Alaska, Arizona, and Wisconsin. It has provided once-in-a-lifetime opportunities ranging from being part of the construction of a water and sewer system in a community – eliminating children’s exposure to sewage on their way to school – to implementing suicide prevention and healthy homes initiatives for impoverished communities. LCDR Stamper also relishes the opportunity to mentor young officers as a way to give back for the mentorship she received early in her career. "The Public Health Service has a distinguished history and provides an opportunity to work with a diverse collection of cultures as well as the finest health practitioners in the world. It’s very rare and extremely rewarding to actually see the positive impact you’re able to make on the public health needs in a population."
Commander Gary Carter
Environmental Health Officer, Indian Health Service
Planned to go to law school
LCDR Carter was headed to law school when he spent a summer at a Federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility as part of COSTEP. He realized that he could work in public health, have a direct impact on people’s health, and feel fulfilled in the Commissioned Corps—so he changed his mind about law school and joined the Corps. LCDR Carter has been an officer for more than a decade and is confident he made the right decision. His first duty station was in Alaska, where he vaccinated sled dog teams in freezing temperatures. He responded to the 1997 Minnesota floods and assessed well water. In his current position as institution environmental health officer, he provides service to health care facilities in American Indian communities, primarily involved in occupational health and safety, where the need is great. The Commissioned Corps has been working on improving public health issues for the community and has had a positive effect. LCDR Carter says, “It’s been very rewarding to work in American Indian communities, improve their environmental health, and help raise their health status. Joining the Corps is for the adventurous at heart who gain fulfillment from helping people.”
Captain Joselito Ignacio
Environmental Health Officer, U.S. Coast Guard
Hurricane response and more
CDR Ignacio served in the U.S. Army as an environmental science officer for 8 years before enlisting in the Corps. As an environmental officer in the Corps, CDR Ignacio has been deployed in a number of settings, including hurricane recovery in the Gulf region, heightened maritime security detail during the Republican National Convention, and the Oakland Estuary oil spill in early 2005. CDR Ignacio is currently detailed as a staff officer in the environmental health division of the U.S. Coast Guard, where he identifies and revises current Coast Guard policies on such topics as water quality, pest management, and food service facilities.
Lieutenant Commander Carolyn Oyster
Environmental Health Officer, U.S. Coast Guard
Traveling near and far to protect public health
As an environmental health officer in the Commissioned Corps, LT Oyster has enjoyed the many opportunities the Corps has afforded her to work with representatives from a wide variety of government agencies. While working with the Indian Health Service, LT Oyster traveled to remote villages to help underserved American Indians. With the Food and Drug Administration, she entered huge manufacturing plants and improved America's food safety. LT Oyster also traveled across the country and worked in a number of duty stations from Alaska to Boston, and California to Puerto Rico. LT Oyster is currently responsible for creating the new Commissioned Corps Associate Recruiter Program. She is also the first Commissioned Corps officer to participate in the International Public Health Officer master's program.
Captain Jaret T. Ames
Environmental Health Officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Seeing the World….and Keeping Us SafeCAPT Ames protects public health by serving in the Vessel Sanitation Program at the CDC. The program prevents the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable disease in the United Sates from a foreign country by passenger vessels traveling from foreign to domestic ports. CAPT Ames and his fellow Commissioned Corps officers accomplish this by conducting unannounced inspections twice a year, conducting quarterly vessel sanitation training seminars to cruise ship supervisors, and investigating gastrointestinal illness outbreaks that occur on ships. They also review new ship construction plans and conduct onsite foreign shipyard inspections during new construction or renovation projects. The job involves travel to exotic destinations on U.S. coasts, including Alaska, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. The CDC has established partnerships with public health programs in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Egypt, and many other places. "I proudly wear the uniform every day, and the industry shows great courtesy and respect for the program and the decisions we make. My work reflects the values of the Corps and the CDC," says CAPT Ames.
Captain Charles Higgins
Environmental Health Officer, National Park Service
As director of the National Park Service's Office of Public Health, CAPT Higgins' service in public health is anything but routine. NPS deals with all manner of public health threats, from protecting tens of thousands of visitors at special events on the National Mall in Washington, DC, to helping a single backpacker prevent Hantavirus, a potentially deadly disease spread by infected rodents. He has even been, literally, up to his neck in alligators in the Everglades. "The biggest opportunity within the Corps has been the enormous professional growth. From rafting the Colorado River and solving visitor illnesses in Grand Canyon National Park, to putting a new food safety system in place, no other career could have provided so many learning experiences," CAPT Higgins says. Supporting the preservation mission of the NPS means not simply killing all of the mosquitoes when West Nile Virus arrives (even the mosquitoes are protected) but finding innovative solutions to public health problems.