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Wearing the PHS Commissioned Corps Uniform


Refer to: OD


Effective Date:  11/01/2004


  1. PURPOSE.  This circular establishes the Indian Health Service (IHS) policy for wearing the United States Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps uniform by officers assigned to the IHS.

  2. BACKGROUND.  The PHS Commissioned Corps Officer's uniform is an integral part of service life.  Prior to this circular, officers were required to wear the uniform at least once a week.  The Surgeon General now requests the daily wear of the uniform for all officers while on duty.  In support of that request, the Director, IHS, revised the IHS uniform policy.  The Local Uniform Authority (LUA) will determine the appropriate uniform, uniformed articles/components, and accessories to be worn within his or her jurisdiction.

    1. Subchapter 26.3, Commissioned Corps Personnel Manual (CCPM), "Uniforms"
    2. Instruction 2, Subchapter 26.1, CCPM, "Uniformed Services Courtesies"
    3. Pamphlet No. 61, CCPM, "Information on Uniforms," Parts 1, 2, and 3,
    4. Chapter 26, Subchapter 3, CCPM, "Instructions 1-6," dated July 15, 1993

  4. POLICY.  All PHS Commissioned Corps Officers assigned to the IHS, except those participating in the Commissioned Junior and Senior Officer Student Training and Extern Programs (COSTEP), are required to wear the PHS uniform while on duty at all work sites, i.e., Area Offices, service units, and Self-Governance and Self-Determination sites.

    All PHS Commissioned Corps Officers assigned to the IHS will wear the appropriate uniform at Area and national meetings as well as at any other official functions where the individuals are representing the IHS or PHS.

    Management officials are responsible for ensuring that officers under their direction wear uniforms properly and adhere to proper grooming standards as outlined in the CCPM and this circular.  Failure to adhere to the requirements of these documents will be reflected in the officer's Commissioned Officers' Efficiency Report rating and may result in promotions being delayed or denied or in other penalties being imposed.

  5. WEARING THE UNIFORM.  The uniform, with its various insignia and devices, is designated primarily to identify PHS Commissioned Corps Officers on sight.  It indicates at a glance the wearer's grade and serves as a visual indication of the authority and responsibility imposed by law on the commissioned officer.

    While in uniform, appropriate conduct is expected, including adherence to prescribed grooming standards.  Officers should become familiar with military courtesy and customs.

    More detailed information concerning the wearing of the uniform and military courtesy is available from the IHS Commissioned Corps Liaisons.  In addition, the monthly "Commissioned Corps Bulletin" has frequent articles on uniforms that provide updated uniform information and clarify uniform regulations.

  6. LOCAL UNIFORM AUTHORITY.  The LUA is responsible for determining which uniforms shall be worn within a given geographic area, based on climate and working conditions, and for issuing the official memorandum on seasonal uniform changes.
    1. The LUA for the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area is the Surgeon General.
    2. The LUA for each IHS Area is the Area Director, who can further delegate the LUA to the Area Deputy Director (or Area Executive Officer) or the Commissioned Corps Liaison, but not to service unit or site directors.

      Individual officers or programs may request that officers in specific assignments not be required to wear the uniform.  A request for an exemption from the requirement to wear the uniform shall specifically address why wearing the uniform is not in the best interest of the officer and the PHS.  Requests for exemptions shall be sent through the LUA to the Director, IHS, for review.  If the Director agrees, the request will be submitted to the:

      Office of the Surgeon General, PHS
      Parklawn Building, Rm. 4-66
      5600 Fishers Lane
      Rockville, MD 20857-0001

      However, this does not relieve such officers from their responsibility to own and wear the uniform as appropriate, to meet other PHS requirements.

    1. All officers, except officers participating in the COSTEP, must own and maintain all required components of the Service Dress Blue PHS uniform.
    2. Commonly prescribed general purpose service uniforms, besides the Service Dress Blue PHS uniform, are the Modified Services Dress Blue, Summer White, Summer Blue, Summer Khaki, and Winter Blue.
    3. Commonly authorized working uniforms include the Working Khaki, Winter Working Blue, and Indoor Duty Whites.
    4. Officers are also responsible for buying and maintaining other uniforms as required by their LUA.

  8. SUPERSEDURE.  This policy supersedes all previous policy memorandums on the wearing of the PHS uniform by officers assigned to the IHS.

  9. EFFECTIVE DATE.  This circular is effective upon the date of signature by the Director, IHS.

/Charles W. Grim, D.D.S./
Charles W. Grim, D.D.S., M.H.S.A.
Assistant Surgeon General

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