Senator Duckworth (D – IL) introduced Legislation to improve and codify the importance of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Ready Reserve (RRC).¹
The PHS Ready Reserve, or the Public Health Service RRC, plays a crucial role in bolstering the readiness and responsiveness of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). Comprised of highly skilled and dedicated healthcare professionals, this reserve force stands ready to mobilize swiftly in times of national emergencies and public health crises. Whether it be a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, or a humanitarian mission, the PHS RRC stands ready to provide essential medical and public health services. These individuals, who are typically civilian healthcare providers, scientists, and specialists, maintain their readiness through ongoing training and participate in regular drills and exercises to ensure they can seamlessly integrate into the USPHS operations when called upon.
During a crisis, the PHS Ready Reserve can be deployed to provide surge capacity, expertise, and critical support to federal, state, and local agencies. Their roles may include delivering medical care, conducting epidemiological investigations, providing mental health services, managing logistics, and disseminating vital public health information.
Sen Duckworth’s legislation: The Parity for Public Health Service Ready Reserve Act would:
- Codify the structure of the RRC in statute, enabling access to benefits and entitlements afforded to Reserve Component servicemembers of all other uniformed services.
- Authorize the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) RRC to have the same dual compensation and leave rights as those of the Armed Forces so all citizens, whether their primary job is working in the private sector or for the Federal government.
- Extend Post–9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill educational benefits to PHSCC RRC once they meet time-in-service requirements.
- Expand the Reserve Forces Policy Board to include representation of PHSCC.
- Authorize funding to allow for sustainment, recruitment, and retention of officers for the PHSCC RRC.