Commissioned Corps Awards

Commissioned Corps officers are not eligible for monetary awards like that of their civilian counterparts. To counter this and address the superior performance by Corps officers, the United States Public Health Service has established the Commissioned Officers Recognition Program.

The purpose of the Commissioned Officers’ Award Program is to:

  • recognize officers for outstanding achievement and/or service
  • encourage maximum performance
  • improve espirit de corps among officers

Commissioned Corps Awards Review Board

The CO Awards Board is composed of seven officers from various PHS Agencies and in several professional categories. The Board's action on each nomination is based on the information in the nomination and occasionally on a review of prior award nominations in the official personnel file.

The Board reviews and discusses each nomination it receives. A summary of major comments is recorded by the Board's Executive Secretary. Occasionally the Board makes a formal additional comment.

Approval level of awards

The authority to approve and present commissioned corps awards was redelegated by the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) to the Surgeon General (SG). However, to date the SG has retained the authority to:

  • Establish awards, medals, and other forms of citation to recognize officers;
  • Approve and present the SGM, SGESM; and
  • Approve the MSM, OSM, and OUC.

PHS Agency Heads, RHAs, and heads of non-PHS Agencies have been delegated the authority by the SG to:

  • Present the DSM, MSM, OSM, and OUC; and
  • Approve and present the CM and UC.

At the NIH, the IC Directors have been delegated the authority by the Director, NIH to:

  • Present the CM, AM, UC and the PHS Citation; and
  • Approve and present the AM, and the PHS Citation.

The Director, Division of Commissioned Personnel has the authority to approve service awards and authorize the wearing of other Uniformed Service awards.

Awards resources