U.S. Public Health Service

How to Address the Assistant Secretary for Health

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 for 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 or address block on an email:
—–—–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 or address block on an email:
—–—–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

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

_______
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 or address block on a letter or email:
—-—-The Honorable
—-—-(Full name)
—-—-Surgeon General
—-—-United States Public Health Service
—-—-(Address)
—-—-—-or
—-—-VADM (Full name)
—-—-Surgeon General
—-—-United States Public Health Service
—-—-(Address)

—-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 or address block on an email:
—–—–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

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

—-Note #1:  Orally you will hear these job titles used as an honorific to emphasize or clarify his/her job in an interaction. For example, you could orally say ‘Deputy Secretary (Name) will be here in five minutes.’ or ‘The Secretary of (department) cannot attend. You will be greeted by Deputy Secretary (Name)’.

—-The media will frequently use the job before the name to clarify to their readers/viewers who this person is: ‘According to Under Secretary of State (Name) …’.  They may even call the person Under Secretary (Name) during an interview.

—-But, traditionally and formally these job titles are not used as an honorific –in writing or conversation.

—-And deputies, unders and assistants definitely are not addressed as Mr./Madam Secretary or Secretary (Name).  That’s their boss.

– Robert Hickey   How to Address a Deputy Secretary How to Address an undersecretary how to address an assistant secretary

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#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)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or 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, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"