Wearing the Uniform: A Commissioned Corps Officer's Perspective



LCDR Kendall Bolton in uniform

When LCDR Kendall Bolton puts on the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) uniform every morning she is proud knowing that it represents the history, tradition, and mission of the Commissioned Corps: to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our nation.

LCDR Bolton is currently assigned to the Department of Defense (DoD) in Fort Riley, Kansas. She is billeted as an Assistant Chief of Social Work and leads the Department of Behavioral Health – Family Advocacy Program (FAP). LCDR Bolton provides clinical assessments to active duty Army soldiers and their families involved in domestic violence and/or child abuse.

Throughout her tenure in the Commissioned Corps, LCDR Bolton has seen her uniform break down the invisible barriers between herself and the patients she treats. “Wearing my uniform gives me an immediate professional identity with my patients,” says LCDR Bolton. “The majority of my patients are enlisted soldiers and when they meet me for the first time, we immediately have a rapport simply due to the uniform. During group interventions, I provide the ‘uniformed perspective’ on therapeutic issues and it is heard much differently than if I was in civilian attire. Being a uniformed officer, I am given the opportunity to serve as a leader within my department while also providing clinical services.”

“The majority of my patients are enlisted soldiers and when they meet me for the first time, we immediately have a rapport simply due to the uniform.”

- LCDR Kendall Bolton

The uniform also serves as a unifying factor among officers in the Corps. “Our uniform solidifies us as a Corps. It tells the communities we serve what we do and what we’re all about,” says LCDR Bolton. “One of the most powerful sights I have seen in the Corps is the annual USPHS symposium where I have been surrounded by other USPHS officers in the same uniform as myself. It demonstrates a shared sense of duty, honor, and service to country.”

LCDR Bolton urges other Corps officers to continue to show respect for their uniforms, and to emphasize this important tradition to the new generation of officers: “Our uniform is critical to maintaining our identity as a Corps. I see it taking on even more of a critical role as the newest wave of officers has an increased sense of duty to present themselves as uniformed officers in the U.S. Public Health Service.”

Page Last Modified on 9/9/2013