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Other Uniformed Services History:

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The United States has seven federal uniformed services that commission officers.


The seven uniformed services are, in order of precedence by ceremonial formation:

United States Department of Defense (DOD)
United States Army (USA) — June 14, 1775
United States Marine Corps (USMC) — November 10, 1775
United States Navy (USN) — October 13, 1775
United States Air Force (USAF) — September 18, 1947
United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
United States Coast Guard (USCG) — August 4, 1790
United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) — January 4, 1889
United States Department of Commerce (DOC)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps (NOAA Corps) — May 22, 1917

The seven uniformed services are defined by 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(5): The term "uniformed services" means—
(A) the armed forces;
(B) the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and
(C) the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service.

The five uniformed services that make up the United States Armed Forces are defined in the previous clause 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(4): The term "armed forces" means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.


Commissioned officers of NOAA and PHS wear uniforms that are derived from Navy uniforms, except that the commissioning devices, buttons, and insignia reflect their specific service. Uniformed officers of NOAA and PHS are paid on the same scale as members of the armed services with respective rank and time-in-grade. Additionally, PHS Officers are covered by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act and the Service Members Civil Relief Act (formerly the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act). Furthermore, all seven Uniformed Services are subject to the provisions of 10 USC 1408, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA).

Both noncombatant uniformed services (PHS & NOAA) consist of commissioned officers only and have no warrant ranks or enlisted ranks. Commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can be militarized by the President of the United States. Statutory authorization to militarize the Public Health Service is under Title 42 U.S.C. (Based on rank, commissioned officers of the Public Health Service (USPHS) and NOAA can be classified as Category III, IV, and V under the Geneva Convention).

Public Health Service

The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps had its beginnings with the creation of the Marine Hospital Fund in 1798, which later was reorganized in 1871 as the Marine Hospital Service. The Marine Hospital Service was charged with the care and maintenance of merchant sailors, but as the country grew, so did the ever-expanding mission of the service. The Marine Hospital Service soon began taking on new expanding health roles that included such health initiatives that protected the commerce and health of America. One such role was quarantine.

Dr. John Maynard Woodworth, a famous surgeon of the Union Army who fought under General William Tecumseh Sherman, was appointed in 1871 as the Supervising Surgeon. Dr. Woodworth's title was later changed to "Supervising Surgeon General," which later became the Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Woodworth is credited with the formal creation of the Commissioned Corps. Dr. Woodworth organized the Marine Hospital Service medical personnel along Army military structure, to facilitate a mobile force of health professionals that could be moved for the needs of the service and country. Later that year, President Grover Cleveland signed an Act into law that formally established the modern Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (then the Marine Hospital Service under the Supervising Surgeon (later Surgeon General). At first open only to physicians, over the course of the twentieth century, the Corps expanded to include dentists, engineers, pharmacists, nurses, environmental health specialists, scientists, and other health professionals.

The stated mission of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service is "Protecting, promoting, and advancing the health and safety of the Nation" in accordance with the Corps four Core Values: Leadership, Excellence, Integrity, and Service. Officers execute the mission of the Corps in the following ways:
Help provide healthcare and related services to medically underserved populations: to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and to other population groups with special needs;
Prevent and control disease, identify health hazards in the environment and help correct them, and promote healthy lifestyles for the nation's citizens;
Improve the nation's mental health;
Ensure that drugs and medical devices are safe and effective, food is safe and wholesome, cosmetics are harmless, and that electronic products do not expose users to dangerous amounts of radiation;
Conduct and support biomedical, behavioral, and health services research and communicate research results to health professionals and the public; and
Work with other nations and international agencies on global health problems and their solutions.


In addition, the Corps provides 6,500+ officers (Medical Officers, Dental Officers, Therapists, Environmental Health Officers, etc.) to other uniformed services, primarily the United States Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps. Corps officers may also be detailed to other federal agencies including the Department of Defense, TRICARE, Department of Justice (BOP), State Department, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior (National Park Service), and even the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Commissioned Corps is also often called upon by other federal, state, and local agencies to aid and augment in times when their resources are overwhelmed. These responses are considered deployments, and may be for technical needs in standard settings, or in the event of disasters, in austere environments.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, established on May 22, 1917 as the Coast and Geodetic Survey Corps due to the events of World War I, and then as the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) Corps from 1965–1970, traces its roots back to the former U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which dates to 1807 under President Thomas Jefferson. Coast and Geodetic Survey officers were commissioned so that under the laws of war, they could not be executed as spies if they were serving as surveyors on a battlefield.

When the Coast and Geodetic Survey was transferred to the newly established Environmental Science Services Administration July 13th, 1965 (per Reorganization Plan 2 of 1965), the corps was redesignated the Environmental Science Services Administration Corps (ESSA Corps).

The ESSA was transferred to newly established National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration October 3rd, 1970 (per Reorganization Plan 4 of 1970), and the corps was redesignated the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Corps (NOAA Corps).

The NOAA Corps today provides a cadre of professionals trained in engineering, earth sciences, oceanography, meteorology, fisheries science, and other related disciplines. 379 Officers operate 19 ships, fly 14 aircraft, manage research projects, conduct diving operations, and serve in staff positions throughout NOAA.

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