Why the Commissioned Corps? The Benefits of Becoming an Officer

August 20, 2014


LCDR Erik Reaves

Officers in the Commissioned Corps represent a cross-section of public health professionals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, occupations, and interests. Despite their individual uniqueness, all Corps officers strive to uphold the U.S. Public Health Service’s mission of protecting, promoting, and advancing the health and safety of our nation and cite common motivators that drove them to choose a career with the Corps.

According to a survey of new officers who participated in the Commissioned Corps’ Officer Basic Course from 2009 – 2013, almost all new officers cited a passion for serving their country as a top motivator to seek a career in the Commissioned Corps. By proudly wearing the USPHS uniform, Commissioned Corps officers display a profound respect for their country and service.


LT Jason Wood

LCDR Erik Reaves, an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also acknowledges the universal desire among Commissioned Corps officers to serve the nation. “We go beyond just representing ourselves, our families, and our ideals. We represent a group of people that are on a common mission to improve the health of people that live in our country.”

“I have a strong history of service in my work career, I like being able to give back,” says LT Jason Wood, a senior staff nurse with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). LT Wood served as an Army paratrooper prior to returning to school and acquiring a new skill set that allowed him to get back into uniform as a Commissioned Corps officer.


RADM Sylvia Trent-Adams

Along with serving the nation, professional growth was cited as a top motivator to pursue a career with the Corps. Commissioned Corps officers are provided the opportunity to participate in ongoing training such as the Officer Mid-Level Course (OMC) which prepares them for successful assignments as a leader in a dynamic public health environment.


LCDR Katherine Demers

Officers also serve on teams that provide a rapid response to public health emergencies. These teams of officers are trained and ready to address urgent public health and medical needs following acute public health events.

“One thing I’ve enjoyed throughout my career in the Commissioned Corps is the ability to have great mentors,” says RADM Sylvia Trent-Adams, Chief Nurse Professional Officer. “I continue that legacy of mentoring and supporting junior officers to assist them in being able to achieve their goals throughout their career.”

The service also provides stability for officers. “I get the best of both worlds,” says LCDR Katherine Demers, a physician assistant with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). “I get to deploy but I still have stability at home. My commitment to family and country can both be maintained.”