USPHS Officers Honored at Ft. Bragg for Work with Army

Honored PHS Officers

Featured in the photo are (from L to R) LT Tricia Booker; LT Josef Otto; LT Billy Collins; CDR Victoria Ingram;
MG Rodney Anderson; RADM William Stokes; LCDR Scott Klimp; LCDR Gina Ligonde; LCDR Alnissa Carter;
LCDR Christine Fallon; CSM Jeffrey Miller; and COL Brian Canfield

The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (Commissioned Corps) is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The Commissioned Corps dates to the establishment of the Marine Hospital Fund in 1798 and its successor, the Marine Hospital Service, which was created in 1871. The Commissioned Corps was formalized along military lines as a uniformed service by Congress in 1889.

On May 10, 2011, Major General Rodney O. Anderson, Deputy Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, honored U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) officers assigned to the installation’s Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC). The PHS officers, all of whom serve at Fort Bragg as part of the Department of Defense (DoD)/PHS Memorandum of Agreement (MOA ), were recognized for the outstanding and critical psychological/Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)/physical rehabilitative care given to warfighters and their dependents.

Accompanied by COL Brian T. Canfield, Commander, WAMC, and PHS RADM William S. Stokes, Center Director, U.S. National Toxicology Program, National Institutes of Health, MG Anderson presented the officers with his personalized coin, a coveted act when given by a senior officer. MG Anderson toured WAMC’s Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) clinics, home to cutting-edge initiatives such as vestibular, vision and driving rehabilitation programs. PHS officers then gave RADM Stokes a detailed tour of WAMC’s Psychological, Social Work and TBI clinics, witnessing first-hand the treatments provided by PHS officers.

Currently, nine PHS officers serve at Fort Bragg, including four social workers, two physician assistants, one psychologist, one physical therapist and one occupational therapist. As of this article, serving there is CDR Mary Vicki Ingram, CDR Henry McMillan, LCDR William Bolduc, LCDR Scott Klimp, LCDR Gina Ligonde-Minor, LT Tricia Booker, LT Billy Collins, LT Josef Otto and LT Indira Wallace Harris.

PHS officers serve in leadership roles at WAMC, including Chief of Psychology and Neuropsychology Service; Deputy Director of Clinical Services and Rehabilitation Services – TBI – Neurology Section; and Emergency Department Social Worker Supervisor.

Credentialed PHS psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, speech language pathologists and nurses began serving at Ft. Bragg as part of the DoD/PHS MOA in June 2008. Since then, PHS officers have achieved milestones including:

  • Supervised the post-deployment TBI screening and treatment of more than 17,500 soldiers
  • Provided behavioral health screenings to soldiers at various points within the deployment cycle to include pre-deployment assessments, post-deployment assessments, post-deployment re-assessments and annual health assessments
  • Improved efficiency and effectiveness of TBI Clinic through introduction of a streamlined process for patient care, resulting in improved rehab patient visits totals by approximately 35 percent in 6 months
  • Awarded a $2 million Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) grant, bringing state-of-the-art new treatment opportunities and additional staff resources to WAMC
  • Established and led the DoD’s only Clinical and Operational Psychology (COPR) post-doctoral residency program; the COPR is now the Army's only APA accredited psychology residency program
  • Developed standard operating procedure for 24/7 Emergency Department Social Work Initiative
  • Worked with WAMC support staff to improve the patient scheduling process and access to care, while reducing the patient no-show rate

Under the DoD/PHS MOA, more than 150 PHS officers provide psychological health services to returning war fighters, their family members and to military retirees at military treatment facilities (MTFs) with the Army, Air Force and Navy.