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2017 Hurricane Response: Joint Services Award Ceremony

2017 Hurricane Response: Joint Services Award Ceremony


>>GOOD MORNING, AGAIN, LADIES AND
GENTLEMEN. I AM REAR ADMIRAL SYLVIA TRENT ADAMS
DEPUTY US SURGEON GENERAL I WILL BE ASSISTING ADMIRAL
BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH, AT THE
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, WHO IS TODAY’S MASTER
OF CEREMONIES. PLEASE RISE FOR THE ARRIVAL OF
THE OFFICIAL PARTIES. WE ARE HONORED TO HAVE WITH US
TODAY MR. JOHN NELSON, LIAISON
OFFICER TO THE PENTAGON FOR THE U.S. ARMY NORTH. DR. ROBERT KADLEC, ASSISTANT
SECRETARY FOR PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE, AT THE DEPARTMENT OF
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT
SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AT THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN
SERVICES, AND THE HONORABLE ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY OF THE
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES.>>GOOD MORNING. PLEASE REMAIN STANDING FOR THE
PRESENTATION OF THE COLORS FOLLOWED BY THE SURGEON
GENERAL’S HONOR GUARD, FOLLOWED BY THE NATIONAL ANTHEM AND
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE MARCH. HONOR GUARD, ADVANCE THE COLORS. OH, SAY CAN YOU SEE
BY THE DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT WHAT SO PROUDLY WE HAILED
AT THE TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING
WHOSE BROAD STRIPES AND BRIGHT STARS
THRU THE PERILOUS FIGHT O’ER THE RAMPARTS WE WATCHED
WERE SO GALLANTLY STREAMING AND THE ROCKETS’ RED GLARE
THE BOMBS BURSTING IN AIR GAVE PROOF THROUGH THE NIGHT
THAT OUR FLAG WAS STILL THERE OH, SAY DOES THAT STAR-SPANGLED
BANNER YET WAVE O’ER THE LAND OF THE FREE
AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE>>HONOR GUARD, RETIRE THE
COLORS. PLEASE JOIN ME IN THANKING OUR
ALL-VOLUNTEER HONOR GUARD CHORAL AND ENSEMBLE, AND PLEASE BE
SEATED. SECRETARY AZAR, MEMBERS OF
CONGRESS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY ROBERT KADLEC, DR. ANTONIO
NOVELLO, 14TH UNITED STATES SURGEON GENERAL, ESTEEMED GUESTS
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, FLAG OFFICERS, COMMISSIONED
CORPS OFFICERS, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, WELCOME TO THIS CEREMONY
TO RECOGNIZE THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND THE UNITED STATES
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE JOINT SERVICE RESPONSES TO THE 2017
HURRICANES HARVEY, IRMA AND MARIA. I WOULD LIKE TO ACKNOWLEDGE A
NUMBER OF DIGNITARIES WHO HONOR US WITH THEIR PRESENCE TODAY. PLEASE HOLD YOUR APPLAUSE UNTIL
I HAVE READ ALL THE NAMES. ENERGY AND COMMERCE’S
SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIRMAN MICHAEL BURGESS, M.D. FROM TEXAS’ 26TH
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: ALTHOUGH YOU WERE NOT ANNOUNCED,
I DON’T NEED ANY PAPER FOR YOU, CONGRESSMAN BILL SUAREZ,
REPRESENTATIVE IN MY HOME DISTRICT IN COLLEGE STATION. CONGRESSMAN PETE OLSON FROM THE
22 AND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. COLONEL PETE POLANCO, 99TH
MEDICAL COMMAND OF THE PUERTO RICO NATIONAL GUARD. COLONEL JAMES CURRY, U.S. ARMY,
RETIRED, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE COMMISSIONED OFFICERS
ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE. AND IN ADDITION TO OUR
DISTINGUISHED MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, WE ARE PLEASED TO
WELCOME CONGRESSIONAL STAFF FROM THE TEXAS, FLORIDA, LOUISIANA,
PUERTO RICO AND U.S. VIRGIN ISLAND DELEGATIONS. THANK YOU ALL FOR JOINING US FOR
THIS OCCASION. [APPLAUSE]
TODAY WE RECOGNIZE AN OUTSTANDING GROUP OF DEDICATED
MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES UNIFORMED SERVICES FOR THEIR
CONTRIBUTION IN PROVIDING DISASTER RELIEF AND BRINGING
HOPE AND COMFORT TO SURVIVORS OF HURRICANES HARVEY, IRMA AND
MARIA. BY WAY OF A BRIEF HISTORY FOR
THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR, THE UNITED STATES
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS IS A
UNIFORMED SERVICE COMPRISED OF 6500 PUBLIC HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
WHO SERVE BOTH AT HHS AND AT 25 OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES ACROSS
THE GOVERNMENT. THE MISSION OF OUR SERVICE IS TO
PROTECT, PROMOTE AND ADVANCE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF OUR NATION. THE COMMISSIONED CORPS ROLE AS A
FRONT LINE DEFENDER OF PUBLIC HEALTH GOES BACK MORE THAN TWO
CENTURIES, WHEN OUR PREDECESSOR AGENCY, THE U.S. MARINE HOSPITAL
SERVICE, WAS ORGANIZED IN 1798 TO TREAT SICK AND INJURED
SEAMEN. CONGRESS ORGANIZED THE
COMMISSIONED CORPS ITSELF IN 1989. DUE TO OUR ORIGINS IN THE MARINE
HOSPITAL SERVICE, A SEA SERVICE, THE COMMISSIONED CORPS DRAWS OUR
RANKS, CUSTOMS AND COURTESY FROM THOSE OF OUR SISTER SEA SERVICE,
UNITED STATES NAVY. SINCE OUR CREATION, THE
COMMISSIONED CORPS HAS BECOME A PUBLIC HEALTH LEADER BY
PROMOTING PREVENTION INITIATIVES, HEALTH EDUCATION
PROGRAMS, ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH TECHNIQUES, RESEARCH, AND
TREATMENT TO INCREASE THE LIFE EXPECTANCY OF PEOPLE IN THE
UNITED STATES BY OVER 30 YEARS. THE COMMISSIONED CORPS CONTINUES
TO LEAD THE NATION IN PROVIDING HEALTHCARE TO UNDERSERVED AND
VULNERABLE POPULATIONS. WE HAVE RESPONDED IN THE
AFTERMATH OF NATURAL AND MAN-MADE DISASTERS INCLUDING
9/11, THE SHOOTINGS IN ROSENBERG, OREGON, SAN
BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA, AND THE FLINT WATER CRISIS. THE COMMISSIONED CORPS HAS
SUPPORTED THE INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES AS WELL, INCLUDING THE
2014 EBOLA OUTBREAK IN WEST AFRICA, NUMEROUS JOINT
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE HEALTH DIPLOMACY MISSIONS ABOARD THE
UNITED STATES NAVAL SHIPS COMFORT AND MERCY, AND CURRENTLY
OUR OFFICERS ARE SUPPORTING THE RECOVERY MISSIONS IN PUERTO
RICO, THE 2018 TYPHOON, AND THE CALIFORNIA CAMPFIRE. THIS LEGACY SOLIDIFIES THE
COMMISSIONED CORPS AS A CORNERSTONE OF PUBLIC HEALTH IN
THIS NATION, AND AN INVALUABLE ASSET TO BOTH PUBLIC HEALTH
PREPAREDNESS, RESPONSE, AND RECOVERY, BOTH DOMESTICALLY AND
WHEN CALLED UPON GLOBALLY. OFTEN HAND IN HAND WITH OUR
SISTER SERVICES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. TODAY WE ACKNOWLEDGE AND
CELEBRATE A SINGULARLY IMPORTANT JOINT RESPONSE ACTIVITY, WHEREIN
UNIFORMED SERVICE MEMBERS BOTH FROM THE DOD’S ARMED SERVICES
AND THE UNARMED PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS
DEPLOYED IN RESPONSE TO RESPONSE AND RECOVERY EFFORTS IN THE WAKE
OF DEVASTATION CAUSED BY HURRICANES HARVEY, IRMA AND
MARIA. THE 2017 RESPONSE JOINT SERVICES
RESPONSE AWARDS CEREMONY MARKS THE FIRST TIME IN COMMISSIONED
CORPS HISTORY THAT WE ARE RECEIVING THE JOINT STAFF
HUMANITARIAN SERVICE MEDAL FOR A LARGE SCALE DEPLOYMENT EFFORT. THE HUMANITARIAN SERVICE MEDAL
IS AWARDED FOR MERITORIOUS DIRECT PARTICIPATION IN A
SIGNIFICANT MILITARY ACT OR OPERATION OF A HUMANITARIAN
NATURE. IN MAY 2018, THE JOINT STAFF
APPROVED THE AWARD FOR QUALIFIED MEMBERS OF ALL BRANCHES OF THE
UNIFORMED SERVICES FOR THE 2017 HURRICANE RESPONSE. MORE THAN 1,460 COMMISSIONED
OFFICERS DEPLOYED TO RESPOND TO HURRICANES HARVEY, IRMA AND
MARIA WITH HUNDREDS OF OFFICERS DEPLOYING TWICE. THESE OFFICERS SUPPORTED CASE
MANAGEMENT FOR EVACUEES AND THEIR NON-MEDICAL ATTENDANTS,
PROVIDED DIRECT PATIENT CARE, HELPED WITH RECOVERY OPERATIONS
IN REBUILDING LOCAL HEALTHCARE IN SOCIETAL SYSTEMS AND
IDENTIFIED COMMUNITIES’ UNMET NEEDS. TO BEGIN TODAY’S CEREMONY, IT IS
MY DISTINCT PRIVILEGE TO INTRODUCE THE SECRETARY OF
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, THE HONORABLE ALEX AZAR. I HAVE LEARNED IN MY NINE MONTHS
IN OFFICE THAT SECRETARY AZAR IS A STAUNCH AND COMMITTED
SUPPORTER OF THE COMMISSIONED CORPS. HE HAS SPENT HIS CAREER WORKING
IN BOTH THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS, AS AN ATTORNEY AND IN
SENIOR LEADERSHIP ROLES FOCUSED ON ADVANCING HEALTHCARE REFORM,
RESEARCH AND INNOVATION. HE LEADS OUR AGENCY, TASKED WITH
ENHANCING THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF ALL AMERICANS BY
PROVIDING FOR EFFECTIVE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AND BY
FOSTERING SOUND, SUSTAINED ADVANCES IN THE SCIENCES
UNDERLYING MEDICINE, PUBLIC HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES. SIR, WE ARE SO GRATEFUL THAT YOU
COULD BE WITH US FOR THIS EXCITING AND HISTORIC CEREMONY
AND CELEBRATION. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, ALEX AZAR,
THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. [APPLAUSE]
>>WELL, GOOD MORNING, EVERYBODY. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US HERE AT
HHS. TODAY IS A VERY, VERY SPECIAL
OCCASION IN THE LIFE OF THIS DEPARTMENT. IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY TO THANK THE
THOUSANDS OF MEN AND WOMEN FROM HHS AND THE DEPARTMENT OF
DEFENSE, WHO MOUNTED A HEROIC RESPONSE TO LAST YEAR’S
HURRICANES. IT’S A HISTORIC DAY ALSO FOR THE
U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS IN
PARTICULAR. AS THE ADMIRAL MENTIONED, IT IS
THE FIRST TIME COMMISSIONED CORPS OFFICERS HAVE EVER BEEN
AWARDED THE JOINT STAFF HUMANITARIAN SERVICE MEDAL FOR A
LARGE SCALE DEPLOYMENT. THIS MAY BE A NEW RECOGNITION
FOR THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, BUT THEIR HUMANITARIAN WORK HAS
A LONG, LONG HISTORY, DATING BACK MORE THAN TWO CENTURIES TO
THE MARINE HOSPITAL SERVICE. INDEED, FOR THE CONGRESSMEN IN
THE AUDIENCE, SINCE THE MARINE HOSPITAL SERVICE DATES BACK TO
1798, INSTEAD OF WHERE IT IS RIGHT NOW, I THINK THAT WOULD BE
5 INSTEAD OF NUMBER 9. AS SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW, THE
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE’S HISTORY IS ESPECIALLY MEANINGFUL TO ME
BECAUSE ONE OF THE VERY FIRST PEOPLE MY GRANDFATHER MET ON
ARRIVING ON ELLIS ISLAND IN 1920 WAS A UNIFORMED MEMBER OF THE
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE WHO DELIVERED HIS 6-2ND PHYSICAL, AS
EVERY ARRIVING PASSENGER GOT AT ELLIS ISLAND. IT IS A GREAT HONOR OF MY LIFE
TO NOW LEAD THE DEPARTMENT THAT IS HOME TO THE U.S. PUBLIC
HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS, AND US A YOU MAY BE ABLE
TO SEE, I’M WEARING THE PIN OF MY SURGEON GENERAL’S MEDALLION,
WHICH I RECEIVED BACK DURING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION, WHICH IS
ONE OF THE GREAT HONORS OF MY LIFE, AND IT’S A TREMENDOUS
HONOR TO BE ABLE TO BE LEADING THE FOLKS WHO ARE IN THE
COMMISSIONED CORPS. LAST YEAR’S HURRICANES WERE AN
EXCEPTIONAL CHALLENGE. 2017 WAS THE FIRST TIME IN OUR
RECORDS TWO CATEGORY 4 ATLANTIC STORMS, HARVEY AND IRMA, MADE
LAND FALL IN THE SAME SEASON. HURRICANE MARIA WAS THE FIRST
CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE TO HIT PUERTO RICO IN 85 YEARS. OUR COUNTRY SUFFERED TREMENDOUS
LOSSES FROM THESE HURRICANES, BUT WE ALSO SAW HEROIC AND
INSPIRING RESPONSES. ONE KEY PIECE OF THAT RESPONSE
WAS INCREDIBLY SUCCESSFUL COOPERATION BETWEEN VARIOUS
PARTS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND STATE AND LOCAL RESPONDERS. WE’RE HERE TODAY TO CELEBRATE
ONE ELEMENT OF THAT COOPERATION, WHICH IS THE COOPERATION BETWEEN
HHS AND THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. AS PART OF THE OVERALL FEDERAL
RESPONSE, HHS LEADS THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESPONSES TO
DISASTERS, A FUNCTION THAT DR. BOB KADLEC WILL BE SPEAKING
MORE ABOUT IN A BIT. THIS OFTEN MEANS ADDRESSING SOME
OF THE MOST CHALLENGING SITUATIONS WHICH REQUIRE THE
CONTRIBUTIONS NOT JUST OF THE COMMISSIONED CORPS OFFICERS BUT
ALSO OUR PART-TIME RESPONDERS FROM THE NATIONAL DISASTER
MEDICAL SYSTEM, V.A. PERSONNEL,
THE MILITARY AND STATE, LOCAL AND COMMUNITY OFFICIALS. IT’S HARD ENOUGH TO MOVE
EQUIPMENT OR PERSONNEL IN A DISASTER SITUATION. IMAGINE THE CARE THAT IS
INVOLVED IN TRYING TO EVACUATE SOMEONE CRITICALLY ILL FROM A
HOSPITAL, URGENTLY, AS A STORM IS BEARING DOWN. FEDERAL PERSONNEL CARRIED OUT
THIS WORK NOT JUST WITH GREAT CARE AND COMPASSION, BUT ALSO
WITH GREAT SOPHISTICATION. THROUGH THE EMPOWER SYSTEM, SET
UP USING HHS DATA, WE WERE ABLE TO IDENTIFY AS THE STORMS
APPROACHED PEOPLE WHO WOULD HAVE HEALTHCARE NEEDS THAT WOULD
REQUIRE ASSISTANCE OR EVACUATION IF THE POWER WENT OUT IN THEIR
HEALTH FACILITIES OR THEIR HOME. THIS WAS THE FIRST EVER DISASTER
SEASON WHERE WE EVACUATED KIDNEY DIALYSIS PATIENTS, MANY OF WHOM
OUR TEAMS WERE ABLE TO REACH BEFORE THEY EVEN KNEW THAT THEIR
DIALYSIS LOCATION HAD BEEN DESTROYED BY THE STORMS. THE SUPPORT CONTINUED LONG AFTER
THE STORM HAD RECEDED AND EVACUATIONS HAD BEEN COMPLETED. COMMISSIONED CORPS OFFICERS
MOVED ON FROM PERFORMING MEDICAL CHECKS AND DELIVERING CARE TO
HELPING EVACUEES REBUILD THEIR LIVES. THIS INVOLVED EVERYTHING FROM
SUPPORTING SENIORS WITH LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY OR DEMENTIA
TO SECURING SPECIAL CAR SEATS FOR A FAMILY WHO GAVE BIRTH
AFTER THE STORMS TO PREMATURE TWINS. AS MANY OF YOU KNOW, THIS WORK
IS STILL NOT COMPLETE. AS WE WORK TO SUPPORT DIALYSIS
EVACUEES AND REBUILD THE HEALTH SYSTEM IN PUERTO RICO AND THE
U.S. VIRGIN ISLAND. BUT TODAY IS A DAY FOR
CELEBRATION. I WANT TO CONGRATULATE THE
COMMISSIONED CORPS AS A WHOLE FOR THIS SPECIAL RECOGNITION,
AND I WANT TO THANK EVERY SINGLE FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND
COMMUNITY RESPONDER WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS RESPONSE. I’D ALSO LIKE TO ESPECIALLY
WELCOME BACK TO THE DEPARTMENT THE FORMER SURGEON NOVELLO, WHO
LED THE CORPS THROUGH SO MUCH OF OUR PREPARATIONS TO BE READY FOR
THIS TYPE OF HISTORIC RESPONSE TO BE READY FOR THREE
UNPRECEDENTED HURRICANES AT THE SAME TIME. AMERICANS SHOULD BE INCREDIBLY
PROUD OF THE WORK THAT WAS DONE TO RESPOND TO THESE HURRICANES. AND ALL AMERICANS SHOULD BE
PROUD OF THE SOPHISTICATION AND DEDICATION SHOWN BY OUR
EMERGENCY RESPONDERS. THROUGH THESE EXPERIENCES, WE
LEARNED LESSONS THAT WILL HELP KEEP US SAFER IN THE FUTURE, NOT
JUST FROM HURRICANES, BUT FROM EVEN MORE SIGNIFICANT THREATS
THAT WE’RE BETTER PREPARED FOR EVERY DAY. AMERICANS REST EASY EVERY NIGHT,
KNOWING THEY’RE PROTECTED BY THE WORLD’S GREATEST MILITARY AND
WE’RE PLEASED TO BE OFFERING OUR OWN RECOGNITION FOR THE
HUMANITARIAN WORK OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE TODAY. BUT AMERICANS SHOULD ALSO REST
EASY KNOWING THAT IN THE EVENT OF A DISASTER OR PUBLIC HEALTH
CRISIS, THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE COMMISSIONED CORPS STAND READY
TO PROVIDE THEM WITH THE CARE THAT THEY MAY NEED. THE SECURITY AND PEACE OF MIND
THIS PROVIDES EVERY AMERICAN IS AND SHOULD BE A POINT OF GREAT
PRIDE FOR OUR COUNTRY, FOR HHS AND ESPECIALLY FOR EVERY OFFICER
OF THE COMMISSIONED CORPS. SO CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN TO
EVERYONE BEING HONORED TODAY, AND PLEASE ENJOY THE REST OF
TODAY’S CEREMONY. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. [APPLAUSE]
>>WE ARE DELIGHTED TO HAVE SEVERAL MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN
ATTENDANCE TODAY, AND THANK YOU, SECRETARY AZAR, FOR THOSE WORDS. AS REPRESENTATIVES OF MILLIONS
OF CONSTITUENTS AFFECTED BY THE 2017 HURRICANES, OUR CONGRESSMEN
ARE INVALUABLE PARTNERS IN OUR COLLECTIVE RESPONSES, AND WE
APPRECIATE THAT YOU TOOK THE TIME TO JOIN US TO HONOR OUR
OFFICERS TODAY. I’D LIKE TO FIRST INTRODUCE
CHAIRMAN BURGESS, WHO REPRESENTS THE 26TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
OF TEXAS. HE CURRENTLY SERVES IN THE HOUSE
ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE AND IS THE CHAIRMAN OF ITS
HEALTH SUBCOMMITTEE. HE IS THE MOST SENIOR MEDICAL
DOCTOR ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE, SERVING IN THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES. HE RECEIVED HIS M.D. FROM THE
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MEDICAL SCHOOL IN HOUSTON AND COMPLETED
HIS RESIDENCY PROGRAMS AT PARKLAND HOSPITAL IN DALLAS. CHAIRMAN BURGESS. [APPLAUSE]
>>THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME BE PART OF YOUR AWARDS CEREMONY
TODAY. THANK YOU, DR. GIROIR, FOR THAT
INTRODUCTION, A LITTLE KINDER THAN I DESERVE. SO IT’S AN HONOR TO BE WITH YOU
THIS MORNING AS WE RECOGNIZE BRAVE AMERICANS WHO ANSWERED THE
CALL TO SERVICE, AND TO SERVE THOSE IN THE WAKE OF LAST YEAR’S
HISTORIC AND CATASTROPHIC STORMS. MANY AROUND THE COUNTRY AND
INDEED AROUND THE WORLD WATCHED AS FRESH IMAGES OF DESTRUCTION
WERE DELIVERED TO THEIR TELEVISION AND COMPUTER SCREENS,
AND OF COURSE IN TEXAS, WE HAD A FRONT ROW SEAT TO THE COURAGE
AND THE HEROISM THAT MARKED OUR NATION’S RESPONSE TO THESE
DISASTERS. TEXAS BENEFITED DIRECTLY FROM
OUR UNIFORMED OFFICERS’ QUICK RESPONSE, AS RISING WATERS
THREATENED FURTHER DAMAGE IN THE WAKE OF HURRICANE HARVEY. IN PUERTO RICO, MERE WEEKS AFTER
HURRICANE MARIA REACHED SHORE, I WAS ABLE TO SEE FIRSTHAND THE
MANY AMERICANS ON THE GROUND WHO HELPED PROVIDE THE BASIC
SERVICES FOR THOSE ON THE ISLAND AND, IN FACT, IT WAS THAT
OPPORTUNITY I HAD TO MEET THE FORMER SURGEON GENERAL NOVELLO
AND CERTAINLY GOT TO SEE FIRSTHAND HOW HER RESPONSE TO
THE DISASTER WAS PLAYING SUCH A VITAL ROLE. THE SUBCOMMITTEE, IN FACT, HAD A
FIELD HEARING IN PUERTO RICO ABOUT A YEAR AGO RIGHT NOW, AND
DR. KADLEC AND I WERE FORTUNATE
ENOUGH TO BE ON THAT CONTINGENT. BUT AS A DOCTOR, I RECOGNIZE THE
CRITICAL NEED FOR PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTISE IN THE AFTERMATH OF
EACH DISASTER. IN TEXAS AND PUERTO RICO, YOU
COULDN’T HELP BUT BE STRUCK BY THE PROFESSIONALISM, THE
COMMITMENT AND THE DEDICATION SHOWN BY MEMBERS OF THE UNITED
STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS. THOSE WE’RE HONORING HERE TODAY
KNOW THAT THE WORK DOES NOT END WHEN THE FLOOD WATERS RECEDE. MANY STAYED ON THE GROUND TO
HELP COMMUNITIES REBUILD LONG AFTER MOST AMERICANS HAD TURNED
THEIR ATTENTION ELSEWHERE. AS A NATION, WE SHOULD ALL BE
ENCOURAGED BY THE EFFORT PUT FORTH BY THE UNITED STATES
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS AND THEIR
FELLOW MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM. I CERTAINLY WANT TO CONGRATULATE
TODAY’S HONOREES AND EXPRESS MY HEARTFELT THANKS FOR THEIR
PUBLIC SERVICE, AS A TEXAN, AS AN AMERICAN, THANK YOU FOR YOUR
SERVICE. [APPLAUSE]
>>THANK YOU, CHAIRMAN BURGESS. NEXT I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE
CONGRESSMAN OLSON, WHO REPRESENTS THE 22ND
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF TEXAS. HE CURRENTLY SERVES IN THE HOUSE
ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE AND IS THE VICE CHAIRMAN OF ITS
ENERGY SUBCOMMITTEE. AFTER GRADUATING LAW SCHOOL,
CONGRESSMAN OLSON JOINED THE U.S. NAVY AND EARNED HIS NAVAL
AVIATOR WINGS IN MARCH 1991. HE HAS FLOWN MISSIONS OVER THE
PERSIAN GULF, THE INDIAN OCEAN AND THE PACIFIC OCEAN. CONGRESSMAN OLSON. [APPLAUSE]
>>GOOD MORNING, EVERYBODY! THANK Y’ALL FOR THAT VERY KIND
INTRODUCTION, ADMIRAL GIROIR. TEXAS LANGUAGE. HE GETS IT. IT’S A TRUE HONOR TO BE WITH
Y’ALL THIS MORNING TO RECOGNIZE THE AMAZING EFFORTS OF THESE
BRAVE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS OFFICERS. I REPRESENT THE PEOPLE OF
SOUTHWESTERN TEXAS. THE RIVER RUNS RIGHT THROUGH THE
HEART OF MY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. IT FLOODED LIKE NEVER, EVER
BEFORE. 7,000 HOMES WERE LOST WITHIN TWO
DAYS BECAUSE OF HURRICANE HARVEY. HARVEY HIT US TWICE. IT HIT US VERY HARD. IT TOOK OUT SCHOOLS, SHOPS,
HOMES, AND LIVES OF OVER 80 FELLOW TEXANS. WITH SOME TEXANS GETTING HIT,
HAMMERED WITH 5 FEET OF RAIN IN TWO DAYS, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN
MUCH, MUCH, MUCH WORSE. BUT IT WASN’T, AND THAT IS
BECAUSE OF Y’ALL. Y’ALL WORKED HARD ALONGSIDE OUR
FIRST RESPONDERS, OUR TEXAS A NATIONAL GUARD, AND OUR
NEIGHBORS ACROSS TEXAS AND TEXAS 22. WE SHOWED THE ENTIRE WORLD WHAT
IT MEANS TO BE HOUSTON-STRONG. AND NO HURRICANE CAN WEAKEN
THAT. I’M THANKFUL AND GRATEFUL TO
CALL Y’ALL SOME OF HARVEY’S HEROS. I KNOW THAT BACK HOME, EVERY
PERSON IN TEXAS 22 IS THANKFUL FOR YOUR BRAVERY TOO. Y’ALL ARE WHAT MAKE TEXAS AND
AMERICA SO GREAT. YOU RISE TO THE OCCASIONS WHEN
CALLED UPON AND PERFORM SELFLESS ACTS OF HUMANITY. ON BEHALF OF THE RESIDENTS OF
HOUSTON AND TEXAS 22, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOR
ALLOWING ME TO BE WITH Y’ALL TODAY, AND THANK YOU FOR BEING
HOUSTON-STRONG. I’LL CLOSE BY SAYING, GO NAVY,
BEAT ARMY! [LAUGHTER]
[APPLAUSE]>>THANK YOU, CONGRESSMAN OLSON,
FOR THAT VERY PERSONAL AND A MEMORABLE TALK THAT WE WILL
REALLY ALWAYS APPRECIATE, WE WILL ALWAYS BE HOUSTON-STRONG. I DID WANT TO MENTION THAT
CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE HAD PLANNED TO BE HERE BUT IT’S
A LITTLE BIT DIFFICULT COMMUTING SO I’M SURE SHE WOULD HAVE SENT
HER RESPECTS AS WELL. SHE HAD LONG PLANNED TO BE AT
THIS CEREMONY. NEXT, I’M PLEASED TO INTRODUCE
DR. ROBERT KADLEC, THE ASSISTANT
SECRETARY FOR PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE. DR. KADLEC SPENT MORE THAN 20
YEARS AS A CAREER OFFICER AND PHYSICIAN IN THE UNITED STATES
AIR FORCE BEFORE RETIRING AS A COLONEL. OVER THE COURSE OF HIS CAREER,
HE HAD SENIOR POSITIONS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, UNITED STATES
SENATE, AND THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. MOST RECENTLY, HE SERVED AS THE
DEPUTY STAFF DIRECTOR TO THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON
INTELLIGENCE. ASSISTANT SECRETARY DR. KADLEC. [APPLAUSE]
>>THANK YOU VERY MUCH, ADMIRAL GIROIR FOR THAT VERY GRACIOUS
AND VERY THOUGHTFUL INTRODUCTION. I HAVE TO ADMIT, THIS IS QUITE A
MOMENT FOR ME BECAUSE IT BRINGS ME A LITTLE BACK TO THE FIFTH
DAY ON THE JOB, WHEN I ARRIVED HERE IN THE DEPARTMENT AND I WAS
TOLD BY MY STAFF THAT THIS HURRICANE CALLED HARVEY WAS
BARRELING ON TEXAS, COULD BE A CATEGORY 5, BUT HAD TO WAIT THE
NEXT 48 HOURS. SO THAT WAS MY BAPTISM UNDER
FIRE, IF YOU WILL, AND WHEN I LOOK OUT AT THE SEA OF NAVY BLUE
HERE, ONE OF THE FEW THINGS THAT I CAN RECALL VERY STARKLY IN
THOSE FEW MOMENTS OF SHEER TERROR THAT I HAD, NEWLY ARRIVED
HERE NOT EVEN KNOWING WHERE THE BATHROOMS WERE WAS THE
COMMISSIONED CORPS OFFICERS WHO WERE PART OF MY TEAM, AND WHO
HELPED US MOUNT THE RESPONSE THAT WAS UNPRECEDENTED NOT ONLY
FOR THE DEPARTMENT BUT FOR THE COUNTRY BECAUSE HARVEY WAS JUST
BEFORE IRMA, JUST BEFORE MARIA, AND THOSE EVENTS HAPPENED NEARLY
SIMULTANEOUSLY BUT IN QUICK SUCCESSION. AND AS YOU HEARD FROM ADMIRAL
GIROIR, IT’S LIKE WE MOBILIZE THE WHOLE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE
COMMISSIONED CORPS TO RESPOND. AND THEY WERE AN INTEGRAL
MEMBER, AND MEMBER OF OUR TEAM WHO DID SO. I THINK IT’S WORTH MENTIONING AT
LEAST AT THIS POINT THAT I HAVE MANY PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE
COMMISSIONED CORPS OFFICERS WITHIN ASPR, BUT THE MAJORITY OF
THEM WHO RESPONDED WERE NOT PART OF MY ORGANIZATION, BUT PART OF
CDC, PART OF FDA, PART OF THE INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE, FROM ALL
PARTS OF THE DEPARTMENT, THEY WERE MOBILIZED AND VOLUNTEERED
TO RESPOND TO THOSE EVENTS. AND I PERSONALLY SAW WHAT THEY
DID IN TEXAS, IN FLORIDA AND PUERTO RICO AND WHAT THEY’RE
STILL DOING IN THOSE PLACES, EVEN TODAY. I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO
CELEBRATE THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MARIA GOING BACK
TO PUERTO RICO AND SEEING OUR PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE
COMMISSIONED CORPS INVOLVED IN THINGS AND HELPING WITH RECOVERY
OF THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM FROM THOSE TERRIBLE EVENTS. AS THEY ARE IN TEXAS, AS THEY
ARE IN FLORIDA TODAY, RESPONDING AND AGAIN HELPING PEOPLE RECOVER
FROM THE EVENTS OF MICHAEL, AS THEY ARE TODAY IN SAIPAN AND THE
MARIANA ISLANDS IN THE PACIFIC, HELPING OUR FELLOW AMERICANS
RECOVER FROM YUTU. SO ONE THING YOU HAVE TO
UNDERSTAND, I THINK VERY CLEARLY IS, WHEREVER THE CALL HAS BEEN
RECEIVED, THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS HAS
RESPONDED IN WAYS THAT ARE PROBABLY TOO NUMEROUS TO
MENTION, BUT I WILL POINT OUT, IT SEEMS TO BE NOT ONLY A
TRADITION THAT DATES BACK TO 1798, 220 YEARS OF RESPONDING TO
PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCIES, TO CRISES, TO CONFLICTS, THAT THE
PUBLIC COMMISSIONED CORPS HAS BASICALLY SOUGHT TO ANSWER THE
CALL, TO ANSWER THE DUTY THEY HAVE TO SAVE LIVES AND PROTECT
AMERICANS AND PROTECT ALL PEOPLE WHO ARE AT RISK. I HAVE TO ADMIT, THOUGH, ON THIS
OCCASION, WHERE IT WILL BE ONLY APPROPRIATE TO RECOGNIZE THE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND WHAT THEY ARE OFFERING IN TERMS OF
WHAT THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS HAVE BEEN IN RESPONDING TO THESE
EVENTS AS WELL IS TO JUST NOTE THAT IT HAS BEEN ALSO THE
TRADITION AND DUTY OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSIONED CORPS
SERVICE TO BASICALLY RESPOND IN TIMES WHEN DOD WAS IN NEED AND
RESPOND IN WAYS THAT ARE EXTRAORDINARY. FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T GOTTEN THE
BOOK OR HAVE READ THE BOOK “PLAGUES AND POLITICS,” WHICH IS
A HISTORY OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE BY FITZHUGH MULLAN,
THERE’S A GREAT PASSAGE IN HERE ABOUT THE ROLE AND CONTRIBUTIONS
AND THE SACRIFICE OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSIONED CORPS ON
JUST ONE OCCASION DURING WORLD WAR II. DR. RALPH BRAUN WAS THE CHIEF OF
PUBLIC HEALTH OF SERVICE TEAM DURING THE D-DAY INNOVATION IN
JUNE OF 1944. AS HE SAID IN A LETTER THAT HE
WROTE TO A PHS COLLEAGUE, “WE STAGED OFF THE COAST FROM THE
6TH OF JUNE TO THE 26TH, ACTING AS A HOSPITAL SHIP FOR THOSE
CASUALTIES BROUGHT FROM THE BEACH AND FROM SHIPS SUNK IN THE
AREA. THE NUMBER WE HAD ABOARD AT ONE
TIME VARIED AS WE SENT THEM BACK TO ENGLAND, WHEN THEY COULD BE
MOVED. OUR HIGH WAS 312 ON 1 DAY. FOR 60 HOURS IN ONE STRETCH, THE
BOYS WERE ON DUTY. I DRANK SO MUCH COFFEE THAT I
WAS HAVING EXTRA SYSTOLES EVERY FOURTH OR FIFTH BEAT. I THINK IT’S JUST AN EXAMPLE OF
WHAT THE INCREDIBLE COMMITMENT IS OF THE PEOPLE WHO CAME BEFORE
YOU AND WHO ARE SITTING IN THIS AUDIENCE TODAY WHEN THE CALL IS
MADE TO BASICALLY HELP OUR COUNTRY IN NEED. SOMETIMES THAT’S IN TEXAS,
PLACES LIKE HOUSTON, SOMETIMES IT’S PLACES IN NORTH CAROLINA,
SOUTH CAROLINA AND PUERTO RICO, VIRGIN ISLANDS, SOMETIMES IT’S
IN SAIPAN OR WHEREVER THAT NEED IS, YOU HAVE ANSWERED THE CALL,
AND THAT’S AN EXTRAORDINARY TESTIMONY NOT ONLY TO THE
TRADITIONS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSIONED CORPS, BUT TO THE
DNA THAT YOU HAVE, EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU, AND IT IS MY
PRIVILEGE AND HONOR TO STAND BEFORE YOU TODAY AND JUST SIMPLY
SAY THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU’VE DONE NOT ONLY DURING
MY TENURE BUT WHAT YOU WILL DO IN THE FUTURE IN RESPONSE TO THE
NATION’S EMERGENCIES AS WE’VE SEEN SO FREQUENTLY NOW AND WILL
LIKELY SEE AGAIN. DR. GIROIR, THANK YOU SO MUCH. [APPLAUSE]
>>NOW I’M PLEASED TO INTRODUCE, VIRTUALLY, MY GREAT COLLEAGUE
AND FRIEND, VICE ADMIRAL JEROME ADAMS. HE IS BUSY REPRESENTING ALL OF
US IN FRONT OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE AT THE AMERICAN PUBLIC
HEALTH ASSOCIATION MEETING AND COULD NOT BE HERE WITH US TODAY,
BUT WE DO HAVE A PREPARED MESSAGE FROM HIM.>>MY JOURNEY AS SURGEON GENERAL
BEGAN DURING THE TERRIBLE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE HARVEY. TWO DAYS AFTER MY SWEARING IN,
HURRICANE IRMA MADE LANDFALL ON THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, AND
FOUR DAYS LATER, HURRICANE MARIA STRUCK PUERTO RICO. THESE HURRICANES LEFT BOTH
PUERTO RICO AND THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS WITHOUT CLEAN WATER OR
AN ADEQUATE POWER SUPPLY. MANY WERE LEFT HOMELESS. THOUGH DEVASTATED, THE RESIDENTS
OF THESE ISLANDS WERE BOTH RESILIENT AND OPTIMISTIC AND
REFLECTED AN IMMENSE SOURCE OF PRIDE AS UNITED STATES CITIZENS. A MONTH INTO MY NEW POST, I TOOK
MY FIRST TRIP IN UNIFORM AS THE UNITED STATES SURGEON GENERAL TO
PUERTO RICO AND TO THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS. I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE PROUD
OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH
SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS. OUR OFFICERS PRE-DEPLOYED TO
PUERTO RICO BEFORE THE STORM HIT SO THAT WE, ALONG WITH FEMA,
COULD RESPOND MORE QUICKLY TO THE DISASTER. BY EARLY NOVEMBER, MORE THAN
1200 UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE OFFICERS HAD SERVED IN
THE U.S., VIRGIN ISLANDS OR PUERTO RICO, ALONG WITH
PERSONNEL FROM OTHER PARTS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND
MILITARY. THE CONCEPT OF SERVICE BEFORE
SELF HAS NEVER BEEN MORE EVIDENT TO ME THAN DURING MY VISIT TO
THE HURRICANE-STRICKEN REGIONS. I WAS CONTINUOUSLY INSPIRED BY
THE LEADERSHIP AND THE INTEGRITY OF OUR OFFICERS. WHILE THE DEVASTATION AND
DESTRUCTION WILL ALWAYS STAY WITH ME, SO, TOO, WILL THE
SELF-SACRIFICE OF THE CLINICIANS, THE RESCUE AND
DISASTER PERSONNEL, FIREFIGHTERS, THE VOLUNTEERS,
AND SO MANY OTHERS WHO TURNED TO HELPING THEIR FELLOW MAN EVEN
WHILE THEIR OWN LIVES WERE UPENDED. AND IT’S TRULY A PRIVILEGE TO BE
A PART OF THIS TEAM OF EXCELLENCE AND OF SERVICE. I WANT TO CONGRATULATE EVERY
OFFICER WHO RESPONDED, AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I AM PROUD
TO SERVE ALONGSIDE THESE SELFLESS AND DEDICATED OFFICERS. YOU HAVE REPRESENTED OUR SERVICE
WELL, AND FOR THAT, I THANK YOU. [APPLAUSE]
>>FINALLY, IT IS MY HONOR TO INTRODUCE YOU TO, AGAIN,
VIRTUALLY, LIEUTENANT GENERAL JEFFREY BUCHANAN, COMMANDER OF
THE UNITED STATES ARMY NORTH. AS YOU MAY KNOW, NORTHCOM IS
VERY BUSY AT THIS MOMENT AND HE COULD NOT JOIN US. LIEUTENANT GENERAL BUCHANAN
ASSUMED COMMAND OF THE U.S. ARMY NORTH, WHICH IS HEADQUARTERED AT
FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS ON AUGUST 26TH, 2016. LIEUTENANT GENERAL BUCHANAN’S
IMPRESSIVE CAREER STANDS STORIED UNITS SUCH AS THE 82ND AIRBORNE
DIVISION, THE 25TH INFANTRY DIVISION, THE 101ST AIRBORNE
DIVISION, AND THE TENTH MOUNTAIN DIVISION. FROM 2013 TO 2015, HE COMMANDED
THE U.S. ARMY MILITARY DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON JOINT FORCE
HEADQUARTERS NATIONAL CAPITOL REGION, BUT BEFORE AND AFTER
THAT COMMAND, HE SERVED FOUR TOURS IN IRAQ AND ONE TOUR IN
AFGHANISTAN. AGAIN, LIEUTENANT GENERAL
BUCHANAN COULD NOT BE WITH US TODAY, BUT WE APPRECIATE HIM
TAKING THE TIME TO RECORD A MESSAGE FOR US.>>AFTER HURRICANES AFFECTED
EVERY MUNICIPALITY AND REQUIRING SIGNIFICANT ASSISTANCE FROM THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, AS THE JOINT FORCE LAND
COMPONENT COMMANDER FOR THIS RESPONSE, I WAS PROUD TO SEE HOW
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAME TOGETHER UNDER FEMA’S LEADERSHIP
TO RESPOND TO ONE OF THE WORST HURRICANE SEASONS WE’VE EVER
SEEN. THE STRONG PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN
OUR SISTER SERVICES INCLUDING THE COMMISSIONED CORPS
CONTRIBUTED TO THE DELIVERY OF SERVICES. IT WAS INSPIRING TO ME TO SEE
THE MEDICAL PROVIDERS AND HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS FROM
THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT, HHS, THE U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE
COMMISSIONED CORPS AND THE MILITARY WORKING SIDE BY SIDE
WITH VOLUNTEERS TO HELP RESIDENTS IN NEED. THE MISSION WAS HUGE. WITH MORE THAN 4,500 HEALTH
PERSONNEL ASSISTING IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY, ASSESSING
HOSPITALS, EVACUATING PATIENTS, TRANSPORTING MEDICAL EQUIPMENT
AND SUPPLIES, COORDINATING BED SPACE, MONITORING DISEASES AND,
OF COURSE, PROVIDING EFFECTIVE DIRECT PATIENT CARE TO THE
PEOPLE WHO NEEDED IT. THE MILITARY WAS PROUD TO BE A
PART OF THIS EFFORT TO SAVE LIVES AND CONNECT INDIVIDUALS
WITH THE CARE THEY NEEDED. WE WORK CLOSELY WITH HHS TO
ENSURE MEDICAL CARE STATIONS WERE RESOURCED ACROSS PUERTO
RICO. OUR SOLDIERS, SAILORS, AIRMEN
AND MARINES ALSO PROVIDED DIRECT PATIENT CARE. THE DEPLOYMENT OF AN AREA
SPECIAL SUPPORT MEDICAL COMPANY, U.S. NAVAL SHIP COMFORT AND ARMY
COMBAT SUPPORT HOSPITAL AND AN AIR FORCE EXPEDITIONARY MEDICAL
SUPPORT HOSPITAL COMPRISED THE LARGEST DEPLOYMENT OF MILITARY
MEDICAL CAPABILITIES FOR DISASTER RESPONSE IN THE UNITED
STATES. IN MY TRAVELS ACROSS THE ISLAND
OF PUERTO RICO, THE PEOPLE CONTINUALLY EXPRESSED THEIR
GRATITUDE. SO AS THE JOINT FORCE LAND
COMPONENT COMMANDER FOR THIS COMMISSION, IT IS WITHOUT
RESERVATION THAT I’M PROUD TO RECOGNIZE THE OFFICERS OF THE
U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS WITH THE
HUMANITARIAN SERVICE MEDAL. THE WORK YOU DID IN RESPONSE TO
HURRICANE MARIA AND OTHER STORMS IN 2017 TOUCHED THE LIVES OF
COUNTLESS AMERICANS. THANK YOU FOR MAKING A
DIFFERENCE FOR OUR FELLOW CITIZENS IN THEIR TIME OF
GREATEST NEED. [APPLAUSE]
>>THANK YOU, LIEUTENANT GENERAL BUCHANAN, FOR THOSE WORD. SO WE HAVE BEEN HONORED TO HEAR
ABOUT THE 2017 RESPONSE FROM SENIOR LEADERS ACROSS TWO
DEPARTMENTS CHARGED WITH PLANNING AND LEADING THE CHARGE. AND THIS MORNING, IN RECOGNITION
OF THOSE JOINT 2017 RESPONSE AND RECOVERY EFFORTS, WE WILL NOW
PRESENT THREE DIFFERENT AWARDS TO INDIVIDUALS AND UNITS. THE SURGEON GENERAL’S EXEMPLARY
SERVICE MEDAL, THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE OUTSTANDING UNIT
CITATION, AND THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE HUMANITARIAN SERVICE
MEDAL. WE WILL START WITH THE SURGEON
GENERAL’S EXEMPLARY SERVICE MEDAL.>>THE SURGEON GENERAL’S
EXEMPLARY SERVICE MEDAL IS AWARDED AT THE SOLE DISCRETION
OF THE UNITED STATES SURGEON GENERAL FOR EXEMPLARY
CONTRIBUTIONS OF A MEMBER OF ANY UNIFORMED SERVICE TO INITIATIVES
OF THE SURGEON GENERAL. MR. JOHN NELSON, ON BEHALF OF
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JEFFREY BUCHANAN, COMMANDER OF THE
UNITED STATES ARMY NORTH, WILL BE RECEIVING THIS MEDAL TODAY ON
BEHALF OF THE U.S. ARMY. [APPLAUSE]
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, PLEASE RISE FOR THE PRESENTATION OF THE
SERIES OF AWARDS. THE SURGEON’S EXEMPLARY SERVICE
MEDAL IS HEREBY PRESENTED TO LIEUTENANT GENERAL JEFFREY
BUCHANAN FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICE AND SUPPORT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, THE OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT
SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH
SERVICES DURING THE 2017 HURRICANE RESPONSE. [APPLAUSE]
DR. ANTONIO NOVELLO, ON BEHALF
OF BRIGADIER-GENERAL JOSE REYES, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO. THE SURGEON GENERAL’S EXEMPLARY
SERVICE MEDAL IS HEREBY PRESENTED TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL
JOSE REYES FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICE AND SUPPORT OF THE
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES OFFICE
OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND THE UNITED STATES
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE DURING THE 2017 HURRICANE RESPONSE. [APPLAUSE]
ON BEHALF OF COLONEL PETER POLANCO, COMMANDER, 900TH
MEDICAL COMMAND PUERTO RICO NATIONAL GUARD, VICE ADMIRAL
NOVELLO HAS ASKED TO RECEIVE THIS MEDAL ON HIS BEHALF. THE SURGEON GENERAL’S EXEMPLARY
SERVICE MEDAL IS HEREBY PRESENTED TO COLONEL PETER
POLANCO FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICE AND SUPPORT OF THE UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, THE OFFICES OF THE
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH
SERVICE DURING THE 2017 HURRICANE RESPONSE. [APPLAUSE]
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE HONOREES. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOU MAY BE
SEATED. NOW IN AN EFFORT TO MAKE SURE
YOU GET ALL OF YOUR EXERCISE TODAY, THERE WILL BE A LOT OF
STANDING AND SITTING. FOREWARNED. AS WE MOVE TO THE PRESENTATION
OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE OUTSTANDING UNIT CITATION, I
WILL ASK REPRESENTATIVE RECIPIENTS TO JOIN US ON STAGE. TODAY’S RECIPIENTS INCLUDE:
MR. JOHN NELSON ON BEHALF OF
U.S. ARMY NORTH. VICE ADMIRAL NOVELLO ON BEHALF
OF COLONEL JOSE POLANCO. ON BEHALF OF THE 900TH MEDICAL
COMMAND PUERTO RICO NATIONAL GUARD. AND REAR ADMIRAL JOAN HUNTER, ON
BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE
COMMISSIONED CORPS. [APPLAUSE]
THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE OUTSTANDING UNIT CITATION IS
GRANTED TO A GROUP OF SERVICE MEMBERS WHO EXHIBIT OUTSTANDING
CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARD ACHIEVING THE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE
CORPS. TO MERIT THIS AWARD, THE UNIT
MUST HAVE PROVIDED OUTSTANDING SERVICE, OFTEN OF NATIONAL
SIGNIFICANCE. THE PHS OUTSTANDING UNIT
CITATION IS BEING AWARDED TODAY TO DOD PARTNERS WITH WHOM WE
JOINTLY RESPOND, AS WELL AS TO THOSE PHS RESPONDERS WHOSE
MISSIONS OCCURRED OUTSIDE THE SPECIFIED LOCATION AND TIME
PARAMETERS COVERED BY THE HUMANITARIAN SERVICE MEDAL. IN FACT, SOME PHS OFFICERS
DEPLOYED IN SUPPORT OF RESPONSE AND RECOVERY EFFORTS THE MANY
MONTHS AFTER THE 2017 STORMS THEMSELVES. AND TO LOCATIONS FAR FROM THE
DIRECTLY AFFECTED AREAS AS IMPACTED INDIVIDUALS AND
FAMILIES SOMETIMES RELOCATED HUNDREDS OF MILES AWAY IN THE
AFTERMATH OF THE STORM. WE THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR
DEDICATED SERVICE, WHICH SOMETIMES INCLUDED CONSIDERABLE
PERSONAL SACRIFICE ON SHORT TERM NOTICE, DEPLOYMENTS, NUMEROUS
DEPLOYMENTS WHICH CONTRIBUTED TO THE RESPONSE AND RECOVERY
EFFORTS FOLLOWING HURRICANES HARVEY, IRMA AND MARIA. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, PLEASE
RISE FOR THE OFFICIAL PRESENTATION OF THE AWARDS. THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE
OUTSTANDING UNIT CITATION IS HEREBY AWARDED FOR DEPLOYMENT
PERFORMANCE DURING THE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT AND CONFLICT DISASTER
RESPONSES DUE TO THE 2017 HURRICANE RESPONSE SEASON. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOU MAY BE
SEATED. AS WE OF MOVE ON TO THE
PRESENTATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE HUMANITARIAN SERVICE
MEDAL, I WILL ASK OUR INDIVIDUAL RECIPIENTS TO JOIN US FIRST ON
THE STAGE AND THEN WE WILL ASK REPRESENTATIVE TEAM MEMBERS AND
TEAM COMMANDERS TO JOIN US. AS YOU HEARD EARLIER, OVER 1400
PHS OFFICERS DEPLOYED IN SUPPORT OF 2017 HURRICANES HARVEY, IRMA
AND MARIA. THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
HUMANITARIAN SERVICE MEDAL MAY BE AWARDED TO ANY MEMBER OF THE
UNITED STATES MILITARY WHO DISTINGUISHES THEMSELVES BY
MERITORIOUS PARTICIPATION AND SPECIFIED MILITARY ACTS FOR
OPERATIONS OF A HUMANITARIAN NATURE. ON MARCH 12TH, 2018, THE DOD
JOINT STAFF APPROVED THIS HONOR FOR QUALIFIED MEMBERS IN ANY
BRANCH OF THE ARMED SERVICES. THE HONOR WAS EXTENDED TO THOSE
HHS OFFICIALS AND PHS DEPLOYMENT TEAMS WHO RESPONDED TO THE 2017
HURRICANES DURING THE TIME PERIODS AND GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
OUTLINED IN THE AUTHORIZATION, INCLUDING PUERTO RICO AND THE
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS AND THE CARIBBEAN, FLORIDA, LOUISIANA
AND TEXAS. THE AUTHORIZED EFFECTIVE DATES
ARE AUGUST 23RD, 2017 TO OCTOBER 31ST, 2017 FOR HURRICANE
HARVEY, AND SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2017 TO OCTOBER 20TH, 2017 FOR
HURRICANES IRMA AND MARIA. TODAY’S INDIVIDUAL RECIPIENTS OF
THE DOD HUMANITARIAN SERVICE MEDAL INCLUDE: DR. ROBERT
KADLEC, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE AT THE
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DR. ANTONIO NOVELLO,
VICE ADMIRAL, RETIRED, FORMER U.S. SURGEONS GENERAL. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE HONOREES. AT THIS TIME, WE’RE GOING TO ASK
OUR PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE DEPLOYMENT TEAM COMMANDERS OR
THEIR DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVES TO JOIN US ON STAGE IN SEVERAL
WAYS. THEY INCLUDE: CAPTAIN TATE
BRETT, NATIONAL INCIDENT SUPPORT TEAM, ALSO KNOWN AS NISTB, THE
REGIONAL SUPPORT TEAM, ALSO KNOWN AS RST7, CAPTAIN
CUNNINGHAM, CAPTAIN JOSEPH SIMON REPRESENTING CAPITAL AREA
PROVIDER, ALSO KNOWN AS CAP TEAM 5, COMMANDER OKWACHI, COMMANDER
AYISHA, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER CHANDRA, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER
YVETTE MACKLAND, LIEUTENANT DEMANDER JENNIFER SHEPHERD
REPRESENTING NST C. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FIRST
WAVE OF HONOREES. [APPLAUSE]
UP NEXT ARE CAPTAIN ANDREW CHEN REPRESENTING RST2. CAPTAIN DAVID DE LA CRUZ, RAPID
DEPLOYMENT FORCES, TEAM 2, AND TEAM 2A. CAPTAIN SALLY HU REPRESENTING
NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION RST. CAPTAIN CYNTHIA KONKEL
REPRESENTING RDF5, CAPTAIN WILLIAM PIERCE, AND 2B. CAPTAIN BRENDAN TAYLOR. CAPTAIN HOLLY ANN WILLIAMS,
RDF3 AND TEAM 3. AND CAPTAIN MARK MILLER. CONGRATULATIONS TO WAVE TWO OF
THE HONOREES. [APPLAUSE]
THE FINAL WAVE INCLUDE CAPTAIN JENNIFER MOSER, REPRESENTING
APPLIED PUBLIC HEALTH TEAM 3, 4 AND 5, COMMANDER WILLIAM
BULDUCK, MENTAL HEALTH TEAM, MHT2, COMMANDER MONIQUE FRASIER,
SERVICES ACCESS TEAM KNOWN AS SAT1. COMMANDER PATRICIO GARCIA, STAT
TEAM 2. COMMANDER SELENA REDDY, SAT
TEAM 3. COMMANDER MICHELLE TAI
REPRESENTING MHT3, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER LATASHA ALLEN,
REPRESENTING APHT1. LIEUTENANT COMMANDER SHITARA
SHERWOOD, STAT TEAM 5. AND LIEUTENANT COMMANDER DANA
WILLIAMS, APH T2. CONGRATULATIONS TO WAVE 3 OF THE
HONOREES. [APPLAUSE]
>>CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN TO ALL OF TODAY’S AWARD RECIPIENTS. BEFORE WE CONCLUDE TODAY’S
CEREMONY, I WANT TO AGAIN THANK SECRETARY AZAR AND THOSE
DISTINGUISHED MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND THEIR STAFF WHO
JOINED US TODAY. MY SINCEREST GRATITUDE ALSO TO
ASSISTANT SECRETARY ROBERT KADLEC, LIEUTENANT GENERAL
BUCHANAN, VICE ADMIRAL ADAMS, DR. NOVELLO, OUR DOD PARTNERS,
THE SURGEON GENERAL’S HONOR GUARD, THE U.S. PUBLIC SERVICE
CHORALE AND ENSEMBLE, MY TEAM IN THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF
HEALTH AND ALL OF HHS FOR HELPING MAKE THIS EVENT
POSSIBLE, AND MANY THANKS TO EVERYONE BEHIND THE SCENES WHO
WORKED TRULY TIRELESSLY FOR WEEKS LATE INTO THE NIGHT, EARLY
IN THIS MORNING, THE PLANNING COMMITTEE, THE PEOPLE IN
FACILITIES, HHS STUDIOS, AND ALL ELSE WHO WORKED TO MAKE TODAY
POSSIBLE. PLEASE SHOW THEM YOUR
APPRECIATION. [APPLAUSE]
I HOPE YOU WOULD ALL AGREE THAT TODAY’S CEREMONY CAN AND
ABSOLUTELY WILL SERVE AS AN INSPIRATION TO ALL OF US AND THE
NATION AS A WHOLE. IT IS MY FIRMEST AND MOST
HEARTFELT BELIEF THAT THE COMMISSIONED CORPS IS UNIQUELY
SUITED TO BE AN AGENT OF CHANGE FOR THE HEALTH AND ECONOMIC
PROSPERITY OF OUR GREAT NATION, AND I CAN ASSURE EVERY OFFICER
IN THIS ROOM AND BEYOND THAT THE FUTURE OF THE COMMISSIONED CORPS
IS STRONG. WE APPRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT TODAY
AND LOOK FORWARD TO MANY MORE MILESTONES BEING ACHIEVED
TOGETHER IN THE COMING MONTHS AND YEARS. TO OUR DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
PARTNERS AND TO THE MANY COMMISSIONED CORPS OFFICERS WHO
DEPLOYED, THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID AND WHAT YOU CONTINUE TO DO.
AND LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, SINCEREST THANKS TO THE
FAMILIES, ALL OF THE FAMILIES WHO YOU OFTEN LEAVE BEHIND WITH
BARELY A MOMENT’S NOTICE IN ORDER TO SAVE THE LIVES OF
OTHERS AND RESTORE THEIR COMMUNITIES. YOU ARE TRULY THE HEROS BEHIND
THE SCENES. I HOPE THAT EVERYONE WILL JOIN
US FOR A BRIEF RECEPTION TO FOLLOW THAT WILL BE AS YOU EXIT,
BUT BEFORE WE DO THAT, PLEASE RISE AND REMAIN STANDING FOR THE
DEPARTURE OF THE OFFICIAL PARTIES. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THIS
CONCLUDES TODAY’S CEREMONY. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ATTENDING. [APPLAUSE]


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