The PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health mourns the passing of the 13th U.S. Surgeon General and Honorary Trustee of the Foundation, Dr. C. Everett Koop, who died on February 25, 2013 in Hanover, Vermont. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Koop family.
Dr. Koop lived for 96 wonderful years and left an amazing impact on his patients, our nation, and beyond. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Koop became a prominent pediatric surgeon and later served as one of our most influential Surgeons General. Dr. Koop was a leader devoted to improving the health of Americans.
Doctor Koop will be remembered for many contributions to the health of the nation but surely his most enduring legacies will be the hundreds of thousands of lives he lengthened and saved by his courageous stands on tobacco use and HIV/AIDs, as well as his leadership of and continuing support for the PHS Commissioned Corps he loved so dearly.
While many organizations will carry on the important work of Dr. Koop, his most visible legacy will be carried out by the uniformed officers of the PHS Commissioned Corps. Dr. Koop's integrity, fearless commitment to speak truth to power, and dedication to the well-being of the Corps he led stand as permanent lessons on officership and leadership.
The PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation will sadly but proudly transition the Dr. C. Everett Koop Honorary Lecture to the first Dr. C. Everett Koop Memorial Lecture to be delivered by the 17th Surgeon General, Dr. Rich Carmona on May 21st at the PHS Scientific and Training Symposium. We will miss the wise counsel provided by Dr. Koop in his capacity as an Honorary Trustee of the Foundation.
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The PHS Commissioned Corps celebrates its 124th birthday on January 4th, 2013. Established by an act of Congress signed into law by President Grover Cleveland on this date in 1889, the PHS Commissioned Corps traces its origins to 1798. In 1798, President John Adams signed into law an Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen establishing the Marine Hospital Service that became the forerunner of the Public Health Service.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Marine Hospital Service was reorganized under the first Supervising Surgeon, John Maynard Woodworth. Woodworth had served as the surgeon of General Sherman's march to the sea during the War. Supervising Surgeon Woodworth organized the Marine Hospital Service along military lines and put his physicians in uniform. This uniformed corps of public health physicians was codified into law in 1889.
Today's PHS Commissioned Corps is a mission-oriented force-in-being consisting of some 6600 hundred public health specialists led by the Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin. Corps officers serve throughout the federal government in a variety of assignments that include direct clinical care to the nation's most underserved populations, support for Department of Defense health care programs, medical research, administration and regulatory affairs.
Corps officers also respond to public health emergencies. Most recently, in the past two months alone, PHS officers have deployed to assist with recovery operations in New York and New Jersey following superstorm Sandy; to Newton, Connecticut to assist with mental health counseling following the Sandy Hook school shootings; and to Saipan in the Northern Marianas Islands to assist with administration and health care for a troubled medical center. While few in number, the PHS Commissioned Corps is an effective public health force multiplier whose officers provide leadership expertise across the broad spectrum of public health operations and administration.
Yet the PHS Commissioned Corps remains one of the most unheralded and unknown components of the federal government - a situation the Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service is determined to overcome.
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The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. All donations to the foundation are fully tax-deductible as charitable donations for income tax purposes. Donations to the foundation are recognized at the annual Public Health Symposium, in the Commissioned Officers Association newsletter (Frontline) and in the most recent annual report.
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The applicants for the 2012 PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation’s Dependent Scholarship program were excellent. Eligible applicants were spouses, children and grandchildren of active duty or retired members of the COF affiliate, the Commissioned Officers Association.
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