Today, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the following statement announcing the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps the first official mascot – Lt. Cmdr. Abigail, a trained facility dog who will provide therapeutic care to patients and Public Health Service officers.
Lt. Cmdr. Abigail was named after the former First Lady of the United States, Abigail Adams, who has a historical connection to the service. The origin and history of the USPHS Commissioned Corps dates back to July 16, 1798, when Congress passed an Act, signed by President John Adams, creating the United States Marine Hospital Service to protect against the spread of disease from sailors returning from foreign ports and thus began the story of the Public Health Service.
The concept of service alertness originated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Public Health Service officers were deployed to respond to the largest public health emergency of our time. The mascot is intended to improve mental well-being, improve friendships, and assist with public health messaging. When first appointed, the mascot receives an honorary rank in the USPHS Commissioned Corps equivalent to that of chief handler. This honorary degree will not include any salary or retirement benefits.
Lt. Cmdr. Abigail is a Labrador Retriever, a Canine Hero Bond Dog, who received special training to serve as a facility dog. Lt. Cmdr. Abigail will serve as a living symbol of the USPHS Commissioned Corps’ commitment to the greater public and to protecting the health of the nation.
“The mascot is a great resource for Public Health Service officers and the communities we serve. As we continue to increase mental health struggles across the country, I hope Lt. Cmdr. Abigail will be a positive sign as she carries out her duties.” The US Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Rev. Rachel Levine
“We are very excited to announce that the USPHS Commissioned Corps will now have its own mascot to support our officers and the communities they serve. Public Health Service officers work every day to protect the health and well-being of our communities, and we are now grateful to have a fierce friend who can be a source of joy and happiness to them. Lt. Cmdr. Abigail will serve as a welcome member of the USPHS family.” US Surgeon General, Deputy Vivek Murthy
“A mascot is a symbol of unity and hope for the future. It is a rallying point for our service, and for the communities we serve. We know that animals have both mental and physical benefits, and our mascot symbolizes our commitment to meet both needs of our community.” Deputy Surgeon General of the United States, Principal Investigator Denise Hinton
“With Lt. Cmdr. Abigail as our mascot gives the USPHS Commissioned Corps more opportunities to connect with patients and their families in a compassionate way to improve mental, physical and emotional well-being. We are proud of the Lt. Cmdr. Abigail serves and deploys with Public Health Service officials as one of America’s Health Responders to promote health and safety in our nation.” Director of Headquarters of the Commissioned Corps, Prime Minister in the Rear Richard Schobitz.
The USPHS Commissioned Corps mascot program is made possible by a memorandum of understanding between the USPHS Commissioned Corps and the USPHS Commissioned Corps. PHS Commissioning Officer Foundation. The mascot will be used for ceremonial purposes and will accompany our officers as they work to protect the health of the nation.
The USPHS Commissioned Corps is one of the eight uniformed services and the only uniformed service dedicated to protecting the nation’s public health. Public Health Service officials serve across the federal government to provide essential health care services to underserved and vulnerable populations; responding to public health or global emergencies; guide public health programs and policy development, and promote innovative science.
For more information on the USPHS Commissioned Corps and the service mascot, please visit: www.usphs.gov
Under the Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioning Officers Foundation.
The PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health was established in June 2000 as a non-profit organization to meet the educational and research needs of the USPHS Commissioned Officers Association.