The Signal Newsletter

Atlanta Branch, Commissioned Officers Association
of the U.S. Public Health Service
(representing members assigned to Atlanta-area federal agencies)

Vol 19, Issue 5                                                                                              December 2009


Calendar of Events

1. 2010 ACOA Executive Committee Election Results
2. Show Your ACOA Spirit While Working Out or Just Out and About
3. ACOA Uniform Store
4. PHS Flag Sales

1. ACOA Again Participates in Helping to Build a House with “Habitat for Humanity!”
2. ACOA Fall Social: Family Fun in the Park
3. Overcoming Barriers
4. ACOA Volunteers for Nursing Home Bingo with The William Breman Jewish Home
5. Atlanta COA Steps Up To Be “Model” Officers

President's Column

Calendar of Events

ACOA's 3rd Annual Atlanta Area Anchor and Caduceus Dinner. Saturday, January 23, 2010. Contact: LT Danielle Mills 770.488.7439.

Lunch and Learn. Thursday, December 17, 1130-1300, CDC, Chamblee Campus, Building 106, Room 1A. Topic: The GI Bill. Speaker: LT. Matthew Weinburke. Contact: CDR Nicole Flowers 770.488.5176.

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2010 ACOA Executive Committee Election Results

ACOA is pleased to announce the new 2010 Executive Committee members:

Vice President/President Elect: LT Chris Fletcher
Secretary: LCDR Jamie Mutter
Treasurer: CDR Linda West

CDR Rachel Nonkin Avchen
LCDR Ezra J. Barzilay
LCDR Dianna Densmore
CDR Nicole Flowers
LT Rashid Njai
LCDR Andrea Sharma
LT Matthew Weinburke
CDR Edward C. Weiss

LT Jasen Kunz will serve as the President in 2010 and CDR Ross Spears will be the Immediate Past President.

The Members-at-Large will be assigned as co-chairs for the four committees (Communications, Community Service, Professional Development, and Special Projects) which conduct most of the business of the Branch. Calls for committee volunteers will go out in January, so please consider volunteering!

Many thanks are extended to all the officers who ran for office, as well as all of the officers who volunteer for ACOA-support activities. The spirit of volunteerism and service by all ACOA members is exemplary.
Speaking on behalf of the entire Committee, we look forward to serving a truly outstanding Branch of the Commissioned Officers Association of the United States Public Health Service.

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Show Your ACOA Spirit While Working Out or Just Out and About

ACOA has more PHS Spirit Tee Shirts available again! The popular wicking shirts are available for $20.00. These are the same shirts that we sold out of at this year’s COF Symposium. If you wanted a shirt but were not able to purchase one, now is your chance! The tee shirts are solid gray wicking material displaying the America’s Health Responder logo pictured below. Available sizes are adult S, M, L, XL, and XXL. Also available are the children’s 100% cotton tee shirts with “Lil’ Officer in Training United State Public Health Service” printed above a U.S. Flag. The children’s tee shirts are $10.00. Available sizes are 4T, youth S, youth M, and youth L. For more information or to order a shirt, please contact LT Chris Fletcher, 770.488.0755.

Adult t-shirt Child t-shirt

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ACOA Uniform Store

Did you know ACOA has a uniform store? If you have uniforms to donate, wish to purchase gently used uniform components (at discount rates), or if you would like to swap gently used uniforms/shoulder boards, contact LCDR Susanna Partridge, 404.553.8400 for female uniforms or LT Chris Fletcher, 770.488.0755 for male uniform components.

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PHS Flag Sales

In an effort to support esprit de corps, as well as to raise funds to support organization activities, ACOA sells full-size (3 feet by 5 feet) USPHS flags and US/USPHS miniature flag desk sets. These flags are available for purchase by USPHS officers and civilians nationwide. These flags were purchased for use by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), as retirement, birthday and holiday gifts, and much more. The full size PHS flag design is not readily available from any other source and makes a great addition to your home or office. It can also serve as a great gift for fellow officers on any special occasion.

ACOA members can purchase the full-size USPHS flag for $50 and USPHS flags desk set for $16. Non-members pay $55 and $18, respectively. For more information, please contact LT Chris Fletcher, 770.488.0755.

USPHS full-size flag US/USPHS miniature flag desk set

Please note: These items are for personal use. The USPHS flag is not intended to replace official USPHS flags, as noted in Subchapter CC29.9 of the Commissioned Corps Personnel Manual.

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ACOA Again Participates in Helping to Build a House with “Habitat for Humanity!”
Contributed by LCDR Darrlyn Cornelius-Averhart

On Saturday, September 26, 2009, nine Atlanta-based PHS officers participated in the “Habitat for Humanity” volunteer activity. The officers attended on Day 6 of the project providing assistance in building an Atlanta Habitat for Humanity house for the fourth year in a row. Each house is built over seven consecutive Saturdays with as many as 35 volunteers. Participating on Day 6 was truly exciting. We assisted in completing remaining tasks, which included touch up exterior painting; finishing soffit, fascia and interior painting; installing doorknobs, bathroom hardware, porch and ramp railings; and overall clean up.

Volunteers began arriving at 7:00 a.m. and worked until approximately 3:00 p.m., under the supervision of a Habitat for Humanity house leader, Alex Cook. A continental breakfast, lunch and snacks were provided by the Atlanta Commissioned Officers Association. At the end of our workday, the house was near completion and left everyone with a sense of accomplishment and the great feeling of giving back to the community. The day may have ended just a little early with showers, but the owner, Maria, was thrilled to have us and many other volunteers in attendance.

Everyone involved agreed that it was a personally rewarding experience and that ACOA should continue to sponsor other community service activities with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.

For more information about Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, see Habitat for Humanity fact sheet, Habifacts.


               ACOA supports Habitat for Humanity again in 2009

List of 9 Volunteers from Left to Right:
1. Edecia Richards, CDR
2. Darrlyn Cornelius-Averhart, LCDR
3. Latoria Jordan, LT
4. Mario Cano, CDR
5. Theresa Harrington, CDR
6. Marta Guerra, CAPT
7. Walter E. Holt, CAPT
8. Renee Funk, LCDR
9. Unidentified Volunteer 

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ACOA Fall Social: Family Fun in the Park
Contributed by CDR D. Ross Spears, ACOA President

The ACOA Fall Social took place on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Piedmont Park. The Fall Social this year was designed to allow officers’ families to meet and spend time together, celebrating the larger family that is ACOA and the US Public Health Service. About 35 officers and family members met at the main pavilion in Piedmont Park. This pavilion will live in ACOA history as the kickoff point for the 2009 Surgeon General’s 5K Run/Walk. Family members, friends and officers met on a beautiful fall day, with a sky refreshingly blue after the floods in late September. It was a perfect day to catch the football, or watch the little ones play and run under the trees. There was even a nearby wedding to provide some unplanned entertainment. ACOA rolled out its new wicking T-shirts and sold the first one there. Officers from all across Atlanta were there, and the pictures below show that everyone had a great time. ACOA wants to especially thank the Special Projects Committee for organizing this. For those of us who were there, it was an unforgettable afternoon!


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Overcoming Barriers
Contributed by Lauren Korzan, M.A., OHS/Lifestyle Program Office

As we approach the holiday season, we may be thinking about our new year’s resolutions for 2010. While most of us aim to be active on a regular basis, we aren’t always successful. Despite our best efforts, sometimes life and other factors get in the way. By identifying the barriers that we face, we may be able to find ways around them to help increase our level of activity on a daily or weekly basis.

While the benefits of regular physical activity are well-known (it has positive effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, cardiorespiratory function, and mood to name a few), we know that a number of us still aren’t participating in a regular exercise program. Recent data from the CDC states that two-thirds (60%) of Americans are not active at recommended levels and in 2007, 24% of Americans reported no leisure-time physical activity. In October 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the “2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” At a minimum, the Guidelines state that adults should participate in:

Aerobic Activity
    o 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity activity, or
    o 75 minutes/week of vigorous-intensity activity, or
    o An equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity

Muscle Strengthening Activity
    o 2 or more days/week
    o Include exercises that are of a moderate to high level of intensity
    o Include exercises for the major muscle groups: legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, arms

In an effort to help meet these Guidelines, let’s look at some common exercise barriers and how we can possibly overcome them.

Lack of Time

It is not uncommon to feel that there’s just no time to fit exercise into an already busy schedule. Try to identify available time slots and schedule physical activity into them. Make sure you include your scheduled exercise time in your PDA or day planner. Also, add more activity into your daily routine by taking the stairs, parking further away from your destination, and walking or biking to work.

Lack of Energy

We often feel like we just don’t have any extra energy to devote to an exercise routine. Fortunately, it isn’t uncommon to feel rejuvenated and re-energized after we exercise. Try to identify times of the day when you feel more energetic. An early-morning workout may be your best option for getting in your workout before your day becomes too hectic, while also giving you an added boost of energy to start your day. Also, know that as long as you accumulate exercise in bouts of at least 10 minutes, you’re receiving health and fitness benefits.

Lack of Motivation

Sometimes it takes a little extra push to get us moving. Find a workout buddy who will keep you accountable to a regular exercise routine. Join an exercise or dance class (or other active special interest) where you will be with others who have similar interests. Signing up for a fun run or charity walk may also keep you motivated to stick with an exercise program.

Other Considerations

Keep in mind that there are some factors that influence our ability to maintain a regular exercise routine that we just can’t avoid. Don’t let travel or weather keep you from being active. When you’re on the road, pack a jump rope or exercise band in your suitcase. These items won’t weigh you down and can provide a great on-the-spot workout. Look for hotels that have a fitness center or pool, or even try taking the stairs to your room instead of the elevator. When the weather is bad, take a brisk walk through the mall or stay home and run through a circuit of sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and lunges. You may also want to have a couple of exercise videos on hand to use when you can’t get out of the house.
The Lifestyle Fitness Centers are ready to help you overcome your exercise barriers. Stop by any fitness center to schedule a fitness consultation with one of our staff, or attend one of our many classes. We look forward to helping you meet your physical activity goals!

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ACOA Volunteers for Nursing Home Bingo with The William Breman Jewish Home
Contributed by CDR Eddie Weiss

For the first time, on Sunday November 8, 2009, the Atlanta Commissioned Officer Association volunteered at the William Breman Jewish Home, a 96 bed nursing home and assisted living facility. Fifteen ACOA volunteers interacted with residents during several spirited bingo games, assisting them with their bingo cards, and calling out numbers. Prizes of $1 were given to the winners. Following the games, ACOA volunteers served refreshments and snacks to the residents and helped residents return to their rooms. Volunteers proudly represented USPHS through this community service opportunity and expressed their enjoyment and hope to volunteer again in the future.

For more information about The William Breman Jewish Home, visit their website.

        LCDR Deborah Dee and LT Adam Lofton CDR Edward Weiss, LCDR Letia Boseman, LCDR Fuyuen Yip, and Olivia Lofton (Daughter of LT Adam Lofton)



LCDR Letia Boseman, LTJG April Bowen, LCDR Melanie Ross, LT Danielle Mills, LT Monica Leonard, CDR Delois, Jackson, CDR Edward Weiss, CPT Hugh Mainzer, LCDR Andrea Sharma, LCDR Deborah Dee, and Olivia and Eric Combest (Daughter and Husband of LCDR Dee). The following individuals are missing from the Photo: LCDR Fuyuen Yip and LT Adam Lofton and his daughter Olivia Lofton. Project Co-lead CDR Edward Weiss

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Atlanta COA Steps Up To Be “Model” Officers
Contributed by CAPT Bruce Tierney

In late August this year I received an invitation to assist Office of Commissioned Corp Force Management (OCCFM) with creating new uniform photos for some of the Commissioned Corps uniforms to be consistent with recent changes to the uniform instructions. As many of you in the Atlanta area may know, in the past few years I have had an interest in assisting Atlanta area officers with becoming more comfortable with uniform wear. This interest was driven by the necessary transition to full time uniform wear that has now become the norm. In addition, I also had a desire to update our uniform instructions with more professional appearing uniform pictures. Such a change would make the USPHS uniform instructions on par with the uniform regulations of other Uniform Services and, in particular, our sister service, the Navy.

When this opportunity landed in my lap, I quickly volunteered to obtain photos of all Commissioned Corps uniforms that could be located in the short time frame available as well as a variety of uniform accessories. One of the primary reasons I agreed to coordinate this photo project was because I knew I could count on my fellow ACOA officers to step up and help me make it happen. I am happy to report that I was not disappointed!

After putting out a call for assistance for this project with a very short deadline, 24 officers volunteered to serve as models. The photo session featured 31 different uniform variations representing essentially all but one current uniform option and wide variety of uniform components. The one uniform I could not locate was the Maternity Summer White. If you have or know of someone that has this uniform, please contact CAPT Tierney as it may not be too late to add this to the uniform Instructions. In fact, because so many officers volunteered their services, not everyone who volunteered was able to participate. By early September, the project had been completed and more than 110 photos had been provided to headquarters in Washington, D.C. These photos are expected to be included in upcoming revisions of Commissioned Corps Instructions on Male and Female Uniforms as well as Special Uniform Situations.

A special thank you must also go to Greg Knobloch of CDC’s Division of Creative Services in the National Center for Health Marketing. Greg remained extremely helpful through out the project, providing me scheduling flexibility to accommodate the needs and time limitations of the many officers who participated. Following the project, ACOA recognized Greg for his assistance to ACOA in both this project,and the ACOA Officer Portrait program that provides officers with professional portraits in uniform which are excellent for both personal and professional use.

Participating Officers:
RADM Anne Schuchat RADM Sven Rodenbeck
CAPT William Bower CAPT Michael Campsmith
CAPT Pamela Ching CAPT Mehran Massoudi
CAPT Kathleen McDuffie CAPT Gail Stennies
CAPT Bruce Tierney CAPT Craig Wilkins
CAPT Holly Williams CDR Ali Danner
CDR Ed Dieser CDR Amanda Dunnick
CDR Danice Eaton CDR Kathy Slawson
CDR Jennifer Williams LCDR Ezra Barzilay
LCDR Paula Peters LCDR Aimee Treffiletti
LCDR Christie Zerbe LT Dawn Arlotta
LT Donna Chaney LT Jasen Kunz


                     CAPT Tierney assists LT Chaney prior to her photo shoot CDC photographer Greg Knobloch prepares to take the uniform photo




The end result! CAPT Bruce Tierney and ACOA Vice President LT Jasen Kunz present Greg Knobloch with an ACOA Certificate of Appreciation and a PHS Flag Desk Set as a token of thanks from ACOA

Further information about PHS Commission Corps uniforms developed by CAPT Tierney may be found on the ACOA website and he is always happy to assist officers to the best of his ability with uniform questions. As always the final word on uniform requirements may be found in the published Uniform Instructions on the Electronic Commissioned Corps Issuance System website

CAPT Tierney is a past president of ACOA and is fairly well known for his (mild) obsession with uniforms…

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President's Column

D. Ross Spears, CDR, USPHS, 2009 ACOA President

The first newsletter of this year began a new tradition for The Signal, the writing of “The President’s Column”. The column served two main purposes: it was a way of helping our membership understand some of the many issues the Branch faced this year; and it was a way of reminding me to stay engaged with The Signal¸ ACOA’s flagship publication. With my term as President drawing to an end, this will be the last of these columns I will write. The writing of this last column comes with mixed feelings, given the events of 2009.

2009 was a year of great accomplishment for the Branch. ACOA continues to engage in traditional activities, such as community service work, the promotion ceremony, engaging the Branch members socially, encouraging professional development, and publishing The Signal. The Executive Committee this year truly shined in their performance. The Communications Committee has published six editions of The Signal this year. Our newsletter continues to serve not only as the flagship of the Branch, but also as an example for COA branches around the country. The website itself has been specifically hailed as a model, and is being emulated by other COA branches. The Community Service Committee led yet another record number of community service activities. These activities allowed officers to “fly the flag” while giving back to the community. The Professional Development Committee this year hosted several excellent Lunch and Learns, from uniforms to assimilation to the promotions. The Special Projects Committee led the Promotion Ceremony and the Fall Social, a family picnic at Piedmont Park. This was the Executive Committee’s “normal” workload, but in and of itself, was outstanding.

The Branch faced a number of special challenges this year. ACOA’s Executive Committee and members rose to the challenge and developed some very creative solutions. The Branch was forced to face the issue of liability and protection of the Branch against lawsuits. The litigious society in which we live, as well as an obscure HHS policy, initiated this discussion in December of last year, just as the 2009 EC was due to take office. Many hours of work has now resulted in some very positive solutions. The Branch has found affordable liability insurance that will not require a raise in dues. The Branch set up safety reviews and in the process suspended indefinitely the Roadside Cleanups given the hazards. The Branch is planning on resuming the APFTs in more controlled environment. A trial program using the CDC Lifestyle Centers’ treadmills for the run is due to resume in early December. These solutions have reduced risk to the Branch, provided protection for future Executive Committee Members, and allowed the Branch to continue a very high level of support for its member officers.

Other accomplishments this year including support for renewing the Honor Cadre, now led by CDR Edecia Richards, myself and LCDR Joe Laco. Collaboration with the CDC Office of Commissioned Corps Personnel (OCCP) and the HHS Regional Office under RADM Clara Cobb has resulted in a trained Color Guard with new equipment, and a pool of over 15 volunteer aides/escorts for visiting flag officers and dignitaries. Thanks to efforts by ACOA volunteers, ACOA now has a permanent home for its historical memorabilia. The display case and exhibits, located in the OCCP offices in Century Center Building 2400, are ACOA’s way of preserving its history.

The Branch faced the 2009 National COA conference with innovation and energy. Special committees worked hard to support various activities, such as the SG Run/Walk, encourage attendance, the opening dinner, and developed creative merchandise, which were sold as ACOA fundraisers. The SG Run/Walk was one of the best in the history of the event. The attendance at the conference set a record of 1266 registered individuals. The opening dinner was a great success. The Branch developed t-shirts and magnets that proved popular with officers. The chairs and co-chairs of these committees, as well as the members, worked many long hours and came up with very creative solutions that resulted in what was overall the best COA conference in its 44 year history.

On a final note, this year’s Past President and the 2008 President, CDR Danice Eaton, is ending her third year on the EC. CDR Eaton’s leadership as President resulted in the Branch receiving the COA Branch of the Year Award for 2008. The award was presented at this year’s conference. Her leadership last year and guidance for me this year had a huge impact on the success of the Branch. I have no doubt she will continue to stay involved with the Branch, but her participation on the EC will be sorely missed.

The EC took on and resolved many challenges in 2009, too many to mention here. Overall, as I move on to the post of Past President, I feel I have been more than honored to have been a part of such a distinguished and dedicated group of officers. The incoming President, LT Jasen Kunz, an outstanding officer in his own right, will lead ACOA and the EC to continue the great tradition set by the Branch this year. Thanks to everyone who has supported the Branch this year, given me counsel and support, and to all who have participated in ACOA, the best of the best in the Commissioned Officers Association of the US Public Health Service.

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For comments about the newsletter please contact The Signal editor,
CDR Vasavi T. Thomas.

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The Signal, Volume 18, Issue 6666