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United States Public Health Service (USPHS)


The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) is a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for promoting public health and preventing diseases in the country. It comprises various programs, initiatives, and staff that work to improve the health of the population, often in collaboration with other agencies. USPHS professionals, particularly the commissioned corps officers, may be eligible for VA benefits due to their role in servicing and protecting the nation’s health.

Key Takeaways

  1. The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) is a federal organization within the Department of Health and Human Services, tasked with protecting, promoting, and advancing the health and safety of the nation.
  2. USPHS officers are considered uniformed service members, similar to members of the military, and are eligible for certain VA benefits and services.
  3. Benefits for USPHS officers include healthcare, retirement pensions, life insurance, and specific service-related benefits, such as VA home loans and education benefits under the GI Bill, depending on eligibility requirements.


The term United States Public Health Service (USPHS) is important in the context of VA benefits because it represents a vital federal organization consisting of dedicated healthcare professionals who actively serve both domestically and internationally to protect, promote, and advance the healthcare needs of Americans.

Members who serve in the USPHS are deemed as uniformed service members, making them eligible for several VA benefits such as healthcare, education, housing, compensation, and pension, among others.

By recognizing and including USPHS in federal benefit programs, the VA ensures that these committed professionals receive proper assistance, resources, and support as a reward for their service, helping to maintain a resilient and well-qualified public health workforce.


The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) is an essential component of the national healthcare system, serving as a key instrument to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of the nation. Established in 1798, the USPHS has evolved into a critical force to address complex public health challenges, such as infectious diseases, natural disasters, and healthcare disparities, which the United States faces.

As a unique non-military, uniformed service, its members are dedicated professionals, including healthcare practitioners, scientists, engineers, and other specialists, deployed across various federal agencies and programs to support public health endeavors. The USPHS’s purpose is to effectively tackle these health-related issues while working in collaboration with multiple stakeholders in the government, industry, and non-profit sectors.

The USPHS plays a significant role in the administration and development of the VA benefits system, an extensive network of assistance and resources tailored to the specific needs of veterans and their families. The USPHS Commissioned Corps, comprising over 6,000 specialized officers, works to enhance the health and well-being of those who have served the nation by providing high-quality healthcare services, medical research, and emergency response efforts.

Through their direct and indirect involvement in the VA benefits system, USPHS officers contribute significantly to ensuring veterans and their dependents have access to essential healthcare services, mental health care, and community-based programs, thereby helping them lead healthier and more fulfilling lives after their military service.

Examples of United States Public Health Service (USPHS)

The Commissioned Corps: The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps is one of the eight uniformed services of the United States, dedicated to providing healthcare services, responding to public health emergencies, and promoting public health. USPHS officers work in various federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Office of the Surgeon General. The officers play a significant role in providing healthcare services to underserved populations, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Epidemic Response: USPHS officers are frequently deployed to respond to public health emergencies, which may include disease outbreaks, natural disasters, or other health crises. For example, during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, USPHS officers were deployed to Liberia to support the global response by constructing and managing Ebola treatment units. The officers also contributed to disease surveillance and contact tracing efforts, ultimately aiding to contain and control the epidemic.

Hurricane Recovery Efforts: In the aftermath of natural disasters, USPHS officers play a pivotal role in providing healthcare services and assisting affected communities in the United States. Following Hurricane Maria in 2017, USPHS officers were deployed to Puerto Rico to provide medical care and support recovery efforts. The officers worked alongside other federal agencies and local partners to establish medical clinics, distribute essential medications, and address public health concerns related to water and sanitation.

FAQ Section: United States Public Health Service (USPHS)

What is the United States Public Health Service (USPHS)?

The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) is a federal agency responsible for promoting and protecting public health in the United States. It consists of more than 6,100 public health professionals, including physicians, nurses, scientists, and other health professionals working to improve public health and respond to health emergencies.

What is the USPHS Commissioned Corps?

The USPHS Commissioned Corps is a uniformed service made up of more than 6,100 health professionals. They serve in various roles across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other federal agencies. Members of the Commissioned Corps are dedicated to protecting, promoting, and advancing the health and safety of the nation.

How does USPHS support VA benefits?

The USPHS works closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to support the health of veterans. Commissioned Corps officers can be assigned to VA health facilities, providing medical care, health promotion, and disease prevention services to veterans. They also collaborate on research efforts to improve the health and well-being of this population.

What types of USPHS personnel provide care to veterans?

A variety of USPHS personnel can be assigned to work in VA facilities, including physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. These experts can provide a wide range of services to veterans, from primary care to specialized services such as mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and rehabilitation services.

Can veterans access USPHS services outside of VA facilities?

While the primary focus of the USPHS is to work with and support the VA, veterans may also be able to access USPHS services outside of VA facilities in certain circumstances, such as during a public health emergency or disaster. Veterans can contact their nearest VA facility to inquire about eligibility and access to USPHS services in their area.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Commissioned Corps
  • Emergency Response
  • Healthcare Services
  • Disease Prevention
  • Health Promotion

Sources for More Information