The Signal  Newsletter

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

Vol 20, Issue 3                                                                                              October 2010


President's Column

Calendar of Events

1. Professional Development Corner
2. ACOA is Getting Physical! The Commissioned Corps’ Annual Physical Fitness Test

1. Answering the Call for CDC’s Ferguson Infectious Disease Summer Fellows
2. ACOA Volunteers for Nursing Home Bingo with The William Breman Jewish Home
3. Atlanta Community Food Bank
4. 2010 Atlanta-area USPHS Promotion Ceremony a Big Success!
5. ACOA Volunteers Package 1,700 Meals for Project Open Hand

President's Column

Jasen Kunz, LT, USPHS, ACOA President

Welcome ACOA membership to the fall edition of The Signal. Since we last spoke in June a great deal has happened inside of ACOA. First off, I am proud to announce the ACOA website is being kept up to date by an exceptionally dedicated webmaster. ACOA’s webmaster also launched a new feature where officers can view our trendy lunch and learns on the website. The new feature, which is the first of several major additions to come, allows our membership to view and listen to the presentation anytime in real-time format.

On another exciting note, I am declaring publicly that ACOA is in strong financial health. Due to our large membership base and historically intelligent business decisions, ACOA is in a position to provide our membership wide-ranging support for years to come. A good salesperson would also take this opportunity to highlight the new CDC/ATSDR Challenge Coin currently in the preorder phase. The CDC Challenge Coin was such a hit with our membership that ACOA decided to take it a step up and include ATSDR on the coin. Please stroll on over to the ACOA website store for specific details on how to secure this unique coin.

So I figure now is a good time to address the question everyone has on their mind, or at least I hope you will shortly. If you are wondering who the "very special" speaker ACOA has invited for the 2011 Anchor and Caduceus Dinner on January 28th, I am here to say that you are going to have to wait just a little bit longer for that announcement. I promise you won't be disappointed and ACOA has a couple extra tricks up our sleeve for the next dinner. So please save the date and start preparing your uniform for the 122nd birthday of the USPHS Commissioned Corps.

Now that we are on the topic of having fun, I must take a moment to highlight quite possibly the most entertaining ACOA fall social to date. On November 6th, ACOA will host a family friendly fall social centered on fun and games. Building off the successful fall social at Piedmont Park last year, ACOA is planning to host a "fun" focused softball game/s. The softball game/s is just one optional part of the social and a variety of other events will be available for all ages. Details on the social are forthcoming and please don’t go out and spend a bunch of money on gear. We will put out a call to members and likely will have extras to borrow the day of. See everyone November 6th.


LT Jasen Kunz

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Calendar of Events

ACOA Fall Social & Softball Extravaganza! Saturday, November 6, 2010.
Have you ever wondered about (or frankly doubted) your fellow officers’ skill in catching a fly ball, swinging a bat, or quickly rounding the bases? Well, wonder no more! Dust off your softball gear, do some stretching, practice your trash talking, and join us at the ACOA Fall Social & Softball Extravaganza!

Details can be found at the Events section of the ACOA website.

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Professional Development Corner
Submitted by LCDR Cria Perrine

As the next promotion cycle approaches it is useful for all officers to refamiliarize ourselves with the criteria evaluated by the promotion boards. Officers up for promotion are rated on 5 precepts; precept 2 is Education, Training and Professional Development and accounts for 15% of the promotion score. While this precept is category-specific, all categories have a benchmark that includes some form of continuing education or public health training. For some officers this may mean specific continuing education credits required to maintain a clinical license, while for others it may mean more general public health course work or course work specific to the officer’s duties. In addition to being a promotion benchmark, public health training will better prepare all officers for potential public health challenges we may face.

So if you are looking for some additional continuing education credit or public health training, here are some ideas:

1. CDC University (CDCU) provides CDC employees with online training opportunities. Training courses are categorized within CDCU’s seven schools including a School of Preparedness and Emergency Response and School of Public Health Science Research and Medicine. (must have access to CDC intranet)

2. The North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness offers free online courses in public health preparedness such as disease surveillance, basic epidemiology, bioterrorism and new/emerging disease agents. Continuing education credits are available.

3. ATSDR offers trainings on how the environment interacts with human health. Many of these trainings are case studies on specific substances (e.g. lead, asbestos, arsenic) while a few are more general (e.g. how to take an environmental exposure history). Continuing education credits are available for some of the modules.

4. CDC Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) is for those who will perform crisis and risk communication and media relations in the event of a public health emergency.
a. Online training b. 2-day CERC/RiskSmart Certification training

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ACOA is Getting Physical!
The Commissioned Corps’ Annual Physical Fitness Test

Submitted by LCDR Shane P. Davis

The Annual Physical Fitness Test (APFT) is intended to determine an officer’s level of cardiovascular fitness as well as specific core and upper body muscular fitness and endurance. There are three activities used to measure these areas of fitness: a timed 1.5 mile run or 500-yard/450 meter swim, side-bridge or sit ups, and push-ups. All officers are required to meet Level 1 or better in all events based on their age group standards in order to successfully pass the APFT.

Passing the APFT and meeting USPHS Commissioned Corps basic readiness standards is a requirement for officers and it demonstrates an officer’s basic level of fitness.

ACOA Helps You Get Basic Ready and Get Fit!

The Professional Development (PD) subcommittee of ACOA is sponsoring quarterly APFT events a couple of weeks prior to OFRD’s Basic Readiness quarterly checks. LT Matthew Weinburke & CDR Nicole Flowers, 2010 chairpersons of the PD subcommittee assert, “We want to be sure that officers in the Atlanta area have the opportunity to complete this basic readiness requirement. But we also want officers to feel comfortable with physical fitness and prepared for peak performance. Presently, the quarterly APFTs are being held on various CDC’s campuses in the fitness centers. LT Weinburke also hopes the committee will offer the APFT on an outdoor course during the spring months.

Look out for upcoming announcements from ACOA inviting you to the next APFT event!

Not ready for the APFT??? ACOA has a fitness guidebook just for you!

In the Spring of 2010, the Office of Health and Safety, Lifestyle Program released a fitness guide for ACOA entitled, "An Officer’s Guide to Preparing for the Annual Physical Fitness Test (APFT)". This guidebook includes a 12-week training schedule to prepare an officer to take the APFT. It is intended for those officers who are beginner to intermediate exercisers or who are currently sedentary or inconsistent in an exercise regimen. This guide also includes an exercise recording form to track your fitness progress as you prepare and can help you to identify if you are ready to take the APFT or if you may need additional assistance in the preparation process.*

Where can I find a copy of this guidebook?

A copy of this guidebook is located on ACOA’s website under the "Training" link. You can also get access to this guidebook by clicking on the link provided here

Additionally, to find out the APFT requirements for each age group and standards for how to properly perform each fitness activity, please visit the Office of Force Readiness and Deployment website, at

We look forward to seeing you at the next quarterly APFT. ACOA, let’s get physical!

ACOA Professional Development Subcommittee APFT Evaluators
From Left to right: LT Matthew Weinburke, LCDR Shane Davis, & LTJG Brek Steele

*Officers should consult with his/her physician to determine if you are healthy enough to start the training activities for the APFT.

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Answering the Call for CDC’s Ferguson Infectious Disease Summer Fellows
Contributed by LT Zanethia Eubanks and LT Malaika Washington

The summer time at CDC is a very special time for staff and students. Not only is it a time for fun but fellowship with others as well. There are several summer internship and fellowship programs that CDC sponsors to aspiring high school, college, and graduate students from several walks of life; one in particular is the James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Fellowship. The Ferguson Fellowship is a competitive paid, eight week professional development program offered to minority graduate students with an interest in public health. Named for one of the first African American veterinarian infectious disease scientist at CDC, Dr. Ferguson’s goal was to continue his legacy by providing this fellowship to minority students with an interest in returning to public health after receiving their graduate degrees. In 2009, the Ferguson Fellowship celebrated 25 years of providing opportunities to minority students.

LT Malaika Washington a new PHS officer ,Class of 2004 Ferguson Fellow alumni proudly states, "I feel no program provides as much to students by way of connecting, networking, and demonstrating an enriching public health experience to master’s level and doctoral student."

The Ferguson Summer Fellowship is housed and administered in collaboration between CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases, Office of Minority Health, and the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools, Incorporated. During the course of the summer, students are exposed to rigorous public health research and/or intervention programs at the CDC. They are required to submit an interim progress report, literature review, abstract, several scientific and networking brown bag luncheons, and a final report during the course of the program. This summer fellowship culminates in a day of formal student presentations for CDC mentors and program staff.

The CDC staff of the James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Disease Fellowship Program invited officers from the United States Public Health Service (USPHS)-Commissioned Corps (CC) to share information about the Corps during a Ferguson Brown Bag presentation on June 25th. The honor of presenting a Brown Bag session on the advantages of considering the USPHS-CC as a career option to this esteemed group of young health professional was extended to LTs Zanethia Eubanks, Malaika Washington, and LTJG Rondorus Milam. LT Christopher Fletcher also joined us to provide information to the fellows about his career in the Corps.

Ms. Ruth Pruitt and Ms. Hope White both work with the Ferguson Fellowship and are well respected within the CDC community. They shared with us, "We are indebted to you for presenting on the panel discussion "Answering the Call." The information you presented made our fellows aware of another public health opportunity that they could pursue. Many of the fellows commented on how many career choices the Commissioned Corps offers and the various roles the Corps has served in protecting the public health of our nation and the world. While for other fellows the various benefits were enough to peak their curiosity, especially when they heard each of the panel members share their personal experience."

As a result of the presentation from the four (4) CC Officers, six (6) fellows submitted resumes that were forwarded to a recruiter for follow-up. Many of the fellows wrote of how beneficial the information was and thus influencing a stronger desire to become a USPHS-CC Officer.

Moreover, Ms. Pruitt added "Your in-depth presentation provided our fellows a greater understanding of public health and the vital role the Corps has in ensuring our safety. The presentation also showed them how they could be a part of providing public health for others."

"Answering the Call" is a commitment for each of us that decided to join the USPHS-CC. We seek to impact and improve the lives of others locally and abroad. It will indeed be our pleasure to see some of the familiar faces we met on June 25th joining us as we serve our communities, our country, and the world.

1st Row -Alana Russaw and Ayotunde Ayoola
2nd Row -Claire Than, Alicia Sampson, Melissa Johnson, Malaika Washington, Locola Hayes, Zanethia Eubanks, Jason Caballero, and Ayodele Obashoro
3rd Row - Mohamed Hersi, Idoreyin Montague, Jamaal Allen, Sandi Brown, Nickell Dixon, Adebola Adesoye, Derrick Bradley, Christopher A. Fletcher, Rhondorus Milan, and Chibuzor Okoro
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ACOA Volunteers for Nursing Home Bingo with The William Breman Jewish Home

On Sunday July 18, 2010, the Atlanta Commissioned Officer Association (ACOA) volunteered for the second time, at the William Breman Jewish Home, a 96 bed nursing home and assisted living facility. Four ACOA volunteers interacted with the residents who were playing BINGO, by 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 at

Front Row: LCDR Deborah (Daisy) Christensen and Lexy Horvath
Back Row: CDR Theresa Harrington and LCDR Letia Boseman, CAPT Dan Budnitz and his son Noah

CAPT Dan Budnitz and son, Noah

CDR Theresa Harrington and LCDR Deborah Christensen

LCDR Deborah (Daisy) Christensen

LCDR Letia Boseman

CAPT Dan Budnitz

CDR Theresa Harrington and LCDR Deborah (Daisy)Christensen, Shuna Horvath, CAPT Dan Budnitz an Lexy Horvath

CAPT Dan Budnitz calling numbers

LCDR Boseman

CDR Theresa Harrington
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Atlanta Community Food Bank
Contributed by LCDR Anna Satcher Johnson and LCDR Juanika Mainor-Harper

On Saturday, July 24, 2010, Atlanta-based officers and family members volunteered at the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) near downtown Atlanta. The ACFB was founded in 1979 and distributes nearly two million pounds of food and other donated grocery items each month to more than 800 organizations in 38 counties in Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. ACFB receives donated items from local grocery stores, manufacturers, distributors and other partners. ACFB volunteers assist in placing the donated items into boxes for ease of distribution.

On July 24th, volunteers boxed over 11,665 pounds of food and food-related items which equates to 773 meals. Officers performed a variety of functions such as checking expiration dates of food items, sorting the items into the 12 established categories, weighing and labeling boxes, and organizing boxes by category onto correct pallets. ACOA volunteers arrived enthusiastic and ready to work, and everyone left the facility with smiles on their faces. Special thanks to all the USPHS officers and family members who participated in the ACFB volunteer activity!

1st row kneeling: Female in blue USPHS shirt - LCDR Juanika Mainor-Harper, Female in black USPHS shirt - CDR Theresa Harrington, Female in blue USPHS shirt - LCDR Anna Satcher Johnson
Standing: Female in white shirt - Family member, Male in black USPHS shirt - CAPT Dan Budnitz, Male (child) in light green shirt - Jacob Budnitz, Male in light blue - CDR John Iskander, Female in yellow shirt - Susan Duderstadt, Male (child) in green striped shirt - Jonas Iskander, Female (child) in white shirt - Eleanor Iskander, Female in black USPHS shirt - LT Malaika Washington, Male (child) in grey shirt - Cameron Brewton, Female in black USPHS shirt - CDR Jacqueline Miller, Female in blue USPHS shirt - CAPT Pamela Ching, Female in black USPHS shirt - LCDR Tchernavia Gregory, Male in black USPHS shirt - CAPT Walter Holt, Male in yellow shirt - CAPT Ralph O‘Connor
Not pictured: CAPT Ruth Jiles, CAPT Monina Klevens, CDR Jeff Bosshart
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2010 Atlanta-area USPHS Promotion Ceremony a Big Success!
Contributed by LCDR Dianna Carroll and CDR Amanda Dunnick

Uniformed services have traditionally held promotion ceremonies to formally acknowledge and publicly recognize the significant milestone of an officer’s promotion to a higher rank. A senior officer serves as the presiding officer during the ceremony and assists in changing out the officer’s shoulder boards to the new rank. The ceremony also includes the traditional Presentation of the Colors, singing of the National Anthem and the Public Health Service (PHS) March. Fellow officers, family members, and colleagues usually attend the ceremony to foster esprit de corps. NCEH/ATSDR held the first Atlanta-area promotion ceremony in 2000. That first ceremony was such a huge success, that it was expanded to an All-Atlanta-area promotion ceremony in 2001 and has been held annually ever since.

Continuing this tradition, an esteemed group of newly promoted officers accompanied by their family, friends and colleagues descended upon CDC’s Roybal campus on July 23rd to participate in the 2010 Atlanta-area USPHS promotion ceremony, sponsored by the Atlanta Commissioned Officers Association and CDC’s Commissioned Corps Personnel Office. This year’s event was especially notable as RADM Anne Schuchat received a promotion to Rear Admiral-Upper rank. Thirty-two officers representing 4 Atlanta-area agencies participated in this year’s event.

RADM David Rutstein, acting deputy US surgeon general, served as presiding officer and keynote speaker for the ceremony. RADM Anne Schuchat, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, represented CDC/ATSDR officers at the ceremony. RADM Clara Cobb, regional health administrator for Region IV and acting regional director for Region IV, represented officers from other Atlanta-area agencies. Atlanta-based officers from the Food and Drug Administration, US Department of Agriculture, and Department of Homeland Security joined CDC officers in this year’s ceremony. A number of senior officers in the Atlanta area also attended.

This event would not have been possible without the 40 fellow officers who volunteered their time to make this event, and the reception that followed, successful. We thank the Honor Guard, the Choral and Wind Ensembles, the Aides-de-Camp and the many officers who assisted at the ceremony for your help in making the 2010 ceremony a memorable one.

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ACOA Volunteers Package 1,700 Meals for Project Open Hand
Contributed by LCDR Suzanne Beavers and LCDR Tegan Boehmer

On Saturday, June 12, 2010, over 20 local USPHS officers and their families volunteered at Project Open Hand in Atlanta, GA. Project Open Hand works to eliminate disability caused by nutritional diseases by providing home-delivered meals and nutritional education to home-bound persons and persons with chronic disabilities. Project Open Hand provides nutritious, freshly-prepared meals for men, women, and children with chronic or terminal diseases. Prior to delivery, patients’ nutritional needs are evaluated by a dietician. Meals are then prepared that meet dietary needs of the patient, and nutritional education is provided in conjunction with meal delivery as well as at other individual and group sessions.

ACOA Volunteers worked hard during the full 3- hour shift, allowing just a short 15 minute break! Decked-out in hair nets, aprons, and gloves, our volunteers worked side-by-side on two assembly lines to scoop, seal, and label approximately 1,700 meals for delivery to Atlanta-area residents. That’s almost 10 meals a minute! In addition, some of the younger volunteers had fun wrapping cookies and rolls. The meals included a variety of healthy entrees (e.g., grilled fish, sweet potatoes, and mixed vegetables) and were packaged for delivery along with snacks, fruit, and beverages.

ACOA members enjoyed the opportunity to serve their community and spend time with fellow officers. To learn more about Project Open Hand or to volunteer on your own, please visit They are always looking for drivers to deliver meals on Sunday mornings. Also, a future ACOA volunteer opportunity is planned for Sunday, October 17, 2010, to deliver packaged meals to community members served by Project Open Hand. We hope to see you then.

Note: Volunteers not shown in photographs include LCDR Sapna Bamrah, LCDR Tegan Boehmer, CAPT Walter Holt, CAPT Massoudi’s son Nicholas, and LT Eubanks’ children Ziya and Cobe.

Atlanta COA members and other volunteers hard at work on the assembly line!

L to R: LT Zanethia Eubanks, CAPT Mehran Massoudi, LCDR Suzanne Beavers, LCDR Derek Ehrhardt, LCDR Tanya Simmons, and LCDR Deborah Dee

L to R: LCDR Anna Satcher Johnson, LT Latoria Jordan, and LT Navia Gregory seal and label meals

L to R: CAPT Michele Pearson, LTJG April Bowen, LCDR Suzanne Beavers, CAPT Pamela Ching add fruit and snacks.

L to R: LT William Jefferies, LCDR Deborah Dee, Olivia Dee

LCDR Henry Wu and CAPT Mehran Massoudi package meals for delivery

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

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