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NewsAnnouncements : Walter Reed Bethesda celebrates Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service’s 219th birthday

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Walter Reed Bethesda celebrates Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service’s 219th birthday

07/17/2017

By AJ Simmons

WRNMMC Command Communications

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) celebrated the 219th birthday of the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service June 13 in the rotunda of the hospital’s iconic tower.
The ceremony opened with a performance by the U.S. Health Services Music Ensemble and an introduction by Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Micah Sickel.
In his opening remarks, Sickel offered those in attendance a brief history of the founding of the Public Health Service, saying, “On July 16, 1798, the fifth congress passed an act to establish an organization to provide temporary relief and aid to sick and disabled seamen.”
Sickel explained that today the Public Health Service contributes to a wide variety of health initiatives, ranging from tobacco control and prevention to responses to natural disasters.
According to the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service’s website, “Commissioned Corps officers are involved in health care delivery to underserved and vulnerable populations, disease control and prevention, biomedical research, food and drug regulation, mental health and drug abuse services and response efforts for natural and man-made disasters.”
Following Sickel’s opening, WRNMMC Director Navy Capt. (Dr.) Mark A. Kobelja introduced the ceremony’s keynote speaker, U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Jeanean Willis-Marsh, the chief of Health Services for the USPHS.
Willis-Marsh, who serves as an advisor to the United States Surgeon General as part of her duties, highlighted the dynamic nature of service members in the Public Health Service. She explained that those service members bear two roles—that of a health care provider and that of an officer in the military.
“As we celebrate our long and industrious history, remember our oath to protect, promote, defend and advance the health and safety of the nation on this day and the days ahead,” said Willis-Marsh.
Additionally, Willis-Marsh highlighted the selflessness of the members of the Public Health Service, saying, “I am proud to say that, regardless of where you are stationed, our [Public Health Service officers] have chosen service over any other type of reward and demonstrate a genuine desire and capacity to serve humanity.”
Willis-Marsh explained that the role of the Public Health Service is constantly evolving to address the health concerns of the nation, such as “the rising burden of non-communicable diseases, the obesity epidemic, the opioid crisis, the rise of diabetes and hypertension and additional behavior and health concerns.”
Following Willis-Marsh’s speech, she was accompanied by Kobelja and others in the ceremonial cutting of the Public Health Service’s birthday cake.