> United States > U.S. Executive > Department of Health & Human Services
|Established|| 00, 1870|
|Disbanded|| Still Active |
|Last Modified||Scott³ November 20, 2008 11:36pm|
The Surgeon General of the United States is the head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
and, ex officio, is the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the U.S. government. The Surgeon
General is nominated by the U.S. President & confirmed via majority vote by the Senate. The Surgeon General
serves a four year term of office and is commissioned as a Vice Admiral in the PHSCC. In carrying out all
responsibilities, the Surgeon General reports to the Assistant Secretary for Health, who is the principal advisor
to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on public health and scientific issues, and who serves as the
overall head of the United States Public Health Service.
The Surgeon General functions under the direction of the Assistant Secretary for Health & operationally heads
the 6,000-member Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, a cadre of health professionals
who are on call 24 hours a day, and can be dispatched by the Secretary of HHS or the Assistant Secretary for
Health in the event of a public health emergency. The Surgeon General is also the ultimate award authority for
several public health awards and decorations, the highest of which that can be directly awarded is the Surgeon
General's Medal (the highest award bestowed by board action is the Distinguished Service Medal).
The Surgeon General also has many informal duties, such as educating the American public about health
issues and advocating healthy lifestyle choices.
The office also periodically issues health warnings. Perhaps the best known example of this is the Surgeon
General's Warning labels that can be found on all packages of American cigarettes. A health warning also
appears on alcoholic beverages.