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 dental officers from the Commissioned Corps.
Commander Phillip Woods
Dentist, Bureau of Prisons
Getting inmates the dental care they need…
Inmates serving their sentences in Federal prison can be sure of one thing: CDR Phillip Woods will be sure they get the dental care they need. A dentist assigned to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in San Diego, CA, CDR Woods is one of only a few board-certified periodontists in the Commissioned Corps. He is also the current national periodontal consultant to BOP. Inmates at the MCC in San Diego, CA, and throughout the system of 116 U.S. Federal prisons often present with complex dental problems resulting from decades of neglect, crystal meth abuse, and limited access to care. “My service in the Commissioned Corps is a gift that gives back to the giver,” says CDR Woods. “I have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many who do not otherwise have access to health care, and, as a former Surgeon General said, ‘There is no health without oral health.’”
Commander Stanley Gordon
Dentist, U.S. Coast Guard/Department of Defense
Never too far from the storm.
As Hurricane Frances headed toward West Palm Beach in 2004, CDR Stanley Gordon and his crew hopped in their rented cars and chased the hurricane to South Florida. Upon arrival at midnight, they wasted no time getting to work, serving hurt and homeless hurricane victims, and relieving the local medical personnel who had just worked 48 hours straight. To this day, CDR Gordon is "never too far from the storm" as a senior dental officer for the Coast Guard and the Department of Defense located in Miami. CDR Gordon, 50, has served in the Commissioned Corps for 13 years and says it's the only job he has truly loved.
Lieutenant Commander Scott Trapp
Dentist, Indian Health Service
Serving the underserved.
For LCDR Scott Trapp, the chief dental officer at the Indian Health Service Fort Totem Health Center, his role as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is twofold: first, it is about providing care to populations not regularly served by the private sector; and second, it is about having the opportunity to serve his country in times of crises. He says he is proud that he has been able to serve in both capacities. LCDR Trapp cares for underserved populations through his current assignment in Fort Totem, ND, where he works with about 10,000 American Indians at the Spirit Lake Health Center. He has fulfilled his mission of serving the Nation during a crisis through his deployment to the Gulf region last fall. "I am honored by the opportunity to provide care through my service in the Corps."
Lieutenant Jane Bleuel
Dentist, Indian Health Service
Tackling a high rate of dental decay.
As a Commissioned Corps dentist serving in a remote area, LT Jane Bleuel has experienced a significant series of small victories through her service to her community. She serves in a community with one of the highest rates of dental decay in the country. "I absolutely love my uniformed service," says LT Bleuel. She not only wears her uniform with pride but also takes pride in helping to keep the public safe and healthy by providing regular health care for thousands of people.
Captain Mary Runner
Dentist, Food and Drug Administration
Approving new dental devices.
As a Commissioned Corps dentist at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CAPT Mary Runner is involved in reviewing and approving new devices that improve the way oral health professionals practice their art. For example, her branch of the FDA approved the first use of lasers for dental procedures, as well as the use of tissue-engineered bone filling materials for periodontal disease. "The FDA encourages all of its dental officers to continue clinical practice," CAPT Runner explains. "When I practiced at the National Naval Medical Center in the Oral Facial Pain Clinic, I expanded my understanding of facial pain issues and treatment protocols. Exposure to new ways of thinking about facial pain enables me to ask the appropriate questions about new devices we review."
Commander Steven Johnson
Dentist, Health Resources and Services Administration
Serving where the need is greatest.
As a dental officer serving at a community health center in Missoula, MT, CDR Steven Johnson's primary responsibility is to provide dental care to patients in an underserved area, many of whom are unemployed, uninsured, homeless, and who may suffer from multiple medical problems. "The populations we serve would not otherwise be seeking or receiving the dental care that we provide," says CDR Johnson. He also serves as a Ready Responder with the National Health Service Corps, through which he participated in the Commissioned Corps' response to Hurricane Katrina, providing emergency care to victims at a mobile dental facility. CDR Johnson summarizes his service in the Corps simply: "I love what I do."
If you are a dental student or dentist interested in the Commissioned Corps, take the next step! E-mail us your questions, call us at 800-279-1605, or apply online now.