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How to Address the Public Health Service

How to Address an Assistant Secretary of Health, USPHS?

How do you address an Assistant Secretary for Health. How do you address this official on official correspondence?
—————-– WD

Dear WD,
In the U.S. Public Health Service the highest officials:
—–#1) Have a naval rank
—–#2) Are appointed by the President (POTUS)
—–#3) Are individually confirmed by the U.S. Senate
—–#4) The Assistant Secretary of Health does not necessarily choose to wear a uniform while in office. If the official chooses not to wear a uniform address as the Honorable (first example below). If the official chooses to wear the uniform address as admiral (second example).
—–And finally,  even though it’s unusual to be the Honorable and have a rank, the same rules apply: It’s either the Rank -or- the Honorable – never both at the same time.  Below are two options for the official envelope – both are correct.  The Assistant Secretary for Health has the rank of Admiral and can be addressed by rank or as the Honorable, as shown below.

—–Envelope, official:
———-The Honorable (Full name)
—–—–Assistant Secretary for Health
—–—–(Address)
—-__—-—-or
—–—–Admiral (Full name)
—–—–Assistant Secretary for Health
—–—–(Address)
—-__—-—-or
—–—–ADM (Full name)
—–—–Assistant Secretary for Health
—–—–(Address)

—–Letter salutation:
———-Dear Dr. (surname):
—–
—–Dear Admiral (surname):

—–Complimentary close:
—–—–Sincerely yours,
—–—–—–-or- 
—–—–Sincerely,

—–Introduction:
—–—–The Honorable (full name), Assistant Secretary for Health
—–—–—–-or- 
—–—–The Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral (surname)

—–Conversation:
———-Dr. (surname):
—–
—–Admiral (surname):

NOTE: On the U.S. Public Health Service website’s leadership page they identify the Assistant Secretary for Health, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Surgeon General, Deputy Surgeon General, and Director, Commissioned Corps Headquarters as (Rank) (Name), (Post-nominals for degrees, licenses and memberships).  E.g., Admiral (Full Name), MD or Rear Admiral (Full Name), MD, JD, MPH.
—–
I have never seen a U.S. government style book that recommended a military rank with a post-nominal other that branch of service.  Never an academic degree. Never a license. Never a membership.  I imagine they want to emphasize that they are healthcare professionals. But using a branch of service post-nominal such as USPHS would define that like a U.S. Navy physician uses USNMC — United States Navy Medical Corps.
—–I wonder if it’s an internal convention within only the Public Health Service?
—–All that said, if any of these leaders were my guest and I had to list their name on a program, I would list their names as the USPHS presents their name.  But I would not assume any other organization follows this unusual style.
—–— Robert Hickey

How to Address a Assistant Secretary  How to Address the Public Health Service

And while we are on the subject…

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health

The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health has the rank of Rear Admiral and can be addressed by rank as shown below.

—-Envelope, official:

—–—–Rear Admiral (Full name)
—–—–Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health
—–—–(Address)
—-__—-—-or
—–—–RADM (Full name)

—–—–Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health
—–—–(Address)

—–Letter salutation:
—–—–Dear Admiral (surname):

—–Conversation (when in uniform):
—–—–Admiral (surname)

— Robert Hickey How to Address the Public Health Service

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How to Address the Surgeon General

The Surgeon General is appointed by The President of The United States and approved by the Senate. This entitles the office holder to be addressed as:
——–The Honorable (Full Name)

Additionally, the surgeion serves in the commissioned corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and is granted the rank of Vice Admiral as commander of the officers of the U.S. Public Health Service:
—-—-Vice Admiral, (Full Name)
—-—-—-or
—-—-VADM (Full Name)

Both forms of address are correct. But it’s either/or. They are never combined.

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-The Honorable
—-—-(Full name)
—-—-Surgeon General
—-—-United States Public Health Service
—-—-(Address)
—-—-—-or
—-—-VADM (Full name)
—-—-Surgeon General
—-—-United States Public Health Service
—-—-(Address)

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Dr. (Surname):
—-—-—-or
—-—-Dear Admiral (Surname):

— Robert Hickey  How to Address the Public Health Service

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Address The Deputy Surgeon General

The deputy surgeon general services in the commissioned corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and holds the rank of rear admiral. In the sample below I’ve used the standard abbreviation for rear admiral: RADM. Note that the conversational form for all of the graded ranks of admiral is simply Admiral (Surname)

—–Envelope, official:
—–—–RADM (Full name)
—–—–Assistant Secretary for Heath
—–—–(Address)

—–Letter salutation:
—–—–Dear Admiral (surname):

—–Conversation:
—–—–Admiral (surname)

– Robert Hickey How to Address the Public Health Service

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, if you don’t see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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