Well, it’s a strange critter, this United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. It’s a uniformed service under direct control of HHS.
The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC), also referred to as the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service, is the federal uniformed service of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.
Along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of two uniformed services that only consist of commissioned officers and has no enlisted or warrant officer ranks, although warrant officers have been authorized for use within the service. Officers of the PHS are classified as noncombatants, unless directed to serve as part of the armed forces by the President or detailed to a service branch of the armed forces. Members of the PHSCC wear the same uniforms as the United States Navy and the United States Coast Guard (when assigned to the Coast Guard) with special corps insignia, and hold ranks equivalent to those of naval officers. Officers of the PHSCC receive their commissions through the PHSCC’s direct commissioning program.
As with its parent division, the PHS, the PHSCC is under the direction of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The PHSCC is led by the Surgeon General who holds grade of vice admiral. The Surgeon General reports directly to the Assistant Secretary for Health who may hold the rank of admiral if he or she is a serving member of the PHSCC.