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Monday, April 29, 2019

Who Is The United States Surgeon General?

Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams
     If you have bought a pack of cigarettes in the US during the last 40 years there’s a warning printed in the package that the Surgeon General has determined that smoking may be hazardous to your health. 
     Who is the Surgeon General? Why does he/she wear a military uniform? Are they in the military? What else do besides rail against cigarettes? 
     The current Surgeon General is Jerome M. Adams, an anesthesiologist and a Vice Admiral in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. 
     The United States has seven federal uniformed services: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard. These five constitute the “Armed Forces.” Two, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps wear uniforms, but they are not members of the Armed Forces. 
     Commissioned officers of these latter two groups wear uniforms that are derived from Navy and Coast Guard uniforms, except that the commissioning devices, buttons, and insignia reflect their specific service. Their uniformed officers are paid on the same scale as members of the armed services with respective rank and time-in-grade. They consist of commissioned officers only and have no warrant officers or enlisted ranks. 
      They may be militarized by the President and because they are commissioned officers, they can be classified as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions, if captured by an enemy. The reason for this provision is that the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey originally began commissioning its officers so that if captured while engaged in battlefield surveying, they would be protected under the Law of Armed Conflict and could not be tried or executed as spies. They are considered non-combatants 
     Also, those who served as officers in these two services are considered veterans the same as those who served in the Armed Forces. 
     In a non-uniformed services setting, formal military courtesies are practiced, but if they are on assignment to an Armed Forces branch, officers will be required to conform to the rules of courtesy as practiced by that branch of the service. 
     And, yes, this includes saluting if you are a member of the Armed Forces and run into one. Uniformed USPHS Corps officers and USCGS officers are saluted by any junior and they will salute their seniors as well. However the likelihood that a military member will even come across these officers is rare. When you do come across them it is very difficult to tell that they are not Navy officers. 
     The Surgeon General oversees the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a group of more than 6,700 uniformed officer public health professionals working throughout the federal government whose mission is to protect, promote and advance the health of the nation. 
     The most visible role the surgeon general plays is to talk about health, whether in public speeches or scientific reports. Since 1878, the office of the surgeon general has published Public Health Reports, a peer-reviewed journal on public health issues. 
     The most famous report came out in 1964, when then-surgeon general Luther Terry published a 150,000 word study titled Smoking and Health that said cigarette smoking was the main cause of lung cancer in men. 
     The most famous surgeon general is probably C. Everett Koop, who had to battle political considerations and social mores to address the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. President Ronald Reagan, who appointed Koop, and his administration were initially reluctant to speak out on the disease, because they believed victims of the disease brought it on themselves, but after thousands of deaths, Reagan finally allowed Koop to create a report. 
     So far as I know only tobacco products are required to have the Surgeon General’ warning, but besides tobacco, the Surgeon General’s current concerns, beside tobacco are opioids and addiction, community health and economic prosperity. health and national security, oral health and emerging public health threats. Some of these concerns are obvious, but some are not. 
     The Surgeon General’s concern is that the country’s prosperity is being hampered by preventable chronic diseases and behavioral health issues. A population with poor health results in workforce shortages, absenteeism, work-related injuries and illnesses, profitability concerns, and challenges with workforce recruitment and retention. 
     What about the concern that wellness is at the heart of the safety and security of the nation? It is estimated that 8 out of 10 young people aged 17 to 24 fail to qualify for military service due to obesity, educational deficits, or behavioral health issues or criminal history.  Also falling into this category is oral health. Poor oral health impacts the country’s ability to recruit young adults for military service and maintain military readiness. Amazing at how puny the youth is! 

      The Surgeon General provides the facts on emerging public health threats, such as Ebola and Zika, gives an update on the government response, and lists steps individuals can take to protect themselves and their families.

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