The Commissioned Corps' Two-Month Mission Aboard the USS Boxer

photo of CDR Izune Hwang providing care for children

CDR Izune Hwang, is a Commissioned Corps
family practice physician assigned to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDR Hwang evaluates patients at
Escuela El Higueral in Guatemala, a small sugar
cane harvesting community that has not had
access to a health care provider in over 10 years.
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Two teams of 15 U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps officers served on the USS Boxer, an amphibious U.S. Navy ship that departed from its homeport of San Diego, CA, on April 28, 2008, and completed a medical, public health, and oral health mission in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Peru.

The 2-month mission of the USS Boxer was to provide primary care health services and public health assessments in communities near where the ship docks as well as remote communities with limited access to medical care. The Commissioned Corps officers worked with the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps; with other partner nations including Canada and the United Kingdom; and with nongovernmental organizations including Project HOPE and Operation Smile.

The Commissioned Corps took part in this mission with two sequential teams of Corps officers each remaining with the USS Boxer for approximately one month. The detachments aboard the USS Boxer consisted of dentists, dental hygienists, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, community health nurses, engineers, environmental health officers, and veterinarians. The team was led by CAPT Dean Coppola, D.D.S, M.P.H, who is a Commissioned Corps policy advisor, senior advisor to the Junior Officer Advisory Group of the Corps, and Ancillary Medical Services chief of the USPHS Rapid Deployment Force Team 2.