May 14, 2014
LCDR Erik Reaves
All officers enter the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service with a desire to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of the nation. As their first test in upholding this bold mission, officers attend the Corps’ Officer Basic Course (OBC). The required two week training aims to enculturate new officers to the life of a uniformed service and prepares each officer to become a leader in public health.
Some of the topics addressed during OBC include uniformed service protocols and courtesies, officership, leadership, career development, resource utilization, and readiness. Each day consists of classroom learning, physical fitness training, team building exercises, homework and other activities that require officers to gain familiarity with the uniformed service.
“Coming in, I saw OBC as just another check-in-the-box on the long list of things that I had to do to maintain basic readiness,” says LCDR Erik Reaves, who currently serves as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “But OBC blew me away. It far exceeded my expectations. The Commissioned Officers Training Academy has put together a fantastic training course and they’ve maximized every moment of those two weeks and made it as special to the new officers as it can be.”
Officers come to OBC with personnel orders to work in one of 23 Federal agencies. OBC prepares officers to, first and foremost, meet the daily demands of their new Federal jobs. In addition, OBC provides officers with the basic tools and knowledge to meet the challenges of being a part of a service of highly qualified public health professionals who are on duty ‘24/7.’ “It’s definitely challenging,” continues LCDR Reaves. “Officers should expect that they’re going to need to maintain a high level of professionalism. The instructors and the cadre have very high expectations.”
LT Jason Wood
As a former Army paratrooper, LT Jason Wood has also participated in military basic training. “The same levels of honor and commitment and sacrifice that I experienced in the military came through in the training cadre at OBC,” says LT Wood, who currently serves as a senior staff nurse with the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
When officers complete the OBC, they have the foundation upon which to develop a career in the Commissioned Corps and meet the basic readiness requirements. Officers also leave the course with a strong sense of esprit de corps and solidarity with their fellow classmates.
“You take this collection of people from different professional backgrounds and by the end of the two weeks, you realize that you’ve developed these friendships and connections and we’re all united in the fact that we went through OBC,” says LCDR Reaves. “As we spread out over the Federal government across different agencies, you’re connected throughout the United States with a group of people that has this common experience and that is truly the camaraderie of OBC.”