When you join the Commissioned Corps, you become a part of a dedicated team of professionals who work to improve the health of individuals, communities, and the Nation.
Meet some health services officers from the Commissioned Corps.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Dawn Arlotta
Health Education Specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
September 11 changed her life…
A native New Yorker, LTJG Dawn Arlotta was teaching a corporate leadership class in downtown Manhattan on September 11, 2001. After she lived through that crisis, LTJG Arlotta decided that she wanted a career in sync with her spirit and left corporate America. She relocated to Atlanta to begin working on a masters in public health. Shortly after graduation, she met Commissioned Corps officers at a disaster preparedness health summit and was intrigued by the Corps. LTJG Arlotta applied for commission and was proud to be sworn in this May. She says, “I wanted to be part of the team that is trained and can respond to crises. It’s so necessary and I have a lot of respect for the Commissioned Corps that’s preparing us to help people.” As a health education officer, she is part of a team that educates people about environmental health hazards in their communities.
Lieutenant Jeri Weatherly
Medical Technologist, Indian Health Service
Raising awareness and helping others…
For most young professionals, a challenging work environment that provides opportunities to grow professionally while making a real difference in the community is an ideal that they strive to realize. For LT Jeri Weatherly, a medical technologist, this goal is achieved every day through her work among American Indians in Pawnee, OK. Two problems that have been growing among the American Indian population in the area are diabetes and obesity. Through her efforts, LT Weatherly helps to aid in the diagnoses of diabetes, with the hope of treating and fighting the disease. She also supports efforts to promote children’s health, such as encouraging children to lead an active life in which physical exercise is a priority. “I believe that my work does make a real impact on people who often would not have been able to receive any other form of health care,” says LT Weatherly.
Commander Dawn A. Kelly
Optometrist, Indian Health Service
An optometrist, Cherokee, and community leader.
While growing up in Muskogee, OK, CDR Dawn A. Kelly never heard of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, much less thought about joining a uniformed service. Today, as a commander in the Corps, she serves in the Indian Health Service (IHS) as the district chief of optometry in Parker, AZ. Her responsibilities include overseeing a team of eye doctors, nurses, and technicians at five IHS health clinics. Nearly 5,000 clinical visits and 500 patient consultations per year keep these clinics busy. As a Cherokee, CDR Kelly views her job of caring for the eye health needs of American Indians living in five communities—two of which are designated as isolated hardship locations—as "taking care of family." Being a commissioned officer of the U.S. Public Health Service opened a rewarding career path for CDR Kelly. Because of her unique experiences within the Corps serving American Indian communities, she has grown beyond her specific medical training to become a community leader.
Lieutenant Alia Legaux
Health Services Officer, Food and Drug Administration
Hometown hero responds to Hurricane Katrina.
LT Alia Legaux, who has served in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps for the past 2½ years, has always kept strong ties to her hometown. Having grown up in New Orleans, LA, and receiving both a bachelors of science in biological sciences and a masters of education in health promotion from the University of New Orleans, she remains a supportive resident despite being stationed in New York City as an inspector for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When the hurricanes of 2005 ravaged the Gulf region, she was proud to lend her support to the relief efforts. For several weeks during both deployments, LT Legaux was stationed in Baton Rouge, LA, and Jackson, MS, to provide logistics support as a liaison officer for the Secretary's Emergency Response Team. LT Legaux says she is proud of her work with the Commissioned Corps because it affords her opportunities to positively impact the health of the entire Nation while working with a diverse range of professionals in the field. "When I first heard of the U.S. Public Health Service, I thought it was too good to be true. Working in the Corps has certainly lived up to my expectations and has provided opportunities for me to apply my training to help the public while serving my country," she explains.
Lieutenant Commander Paul Wetherill
Health Services Officer, Department of Homeland Security
Bored with private practice.
At a 540-bed immigration detention facility, Physician Assistant LCDR Wetherill is the chief midlevel practitioner, coordinating the medical clinic and providing health care to detainees. He says, "Many of my patients have never had the benefit of professional medical opinion or care. The people I see and treat benefit from my experience, expertise, and humanity." After receiving a National Health Service Corps scholarship to attend the Duke University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program in exchange for 2 years of service, he worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. After his obligation was complete and thinking that the grass was greener on the other side, he went into private practice and quickly learned it lacked the excitement and variety of the public health sector. LCDR Wetherill says, "I joined the Corps just after 9/11, having become bored with private practice. In what other job can you jump out of bed at 1 a.m., drive to a Federal prison, collect an inmate with the U.S. Marshals, board a chartered Lear jet and fly to the other side of the country?" He's also served as sole medical officer on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration medicine shipboard, performing scientific research on a 56-day research expedition where he had to perform emergency surgery in 20-foot seas. "Everybody who is involved with the Corps' service has the chance to have unique and valuable experiences. Every possibility exists when you are a member of the Commissioned Corps!" states LCDR Wetherill.
If you are a student or health services professional interested in the Commissioned Corps, take the next step! E-mail us your questions, call us at 800-279-1605, or apply online now.