HHS Announces the First-Ever Official United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Service Mascot
Today, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the following statement announcing the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps’ first official mascot – Lt. Cmdr. Abigail, a trained facility dog who will provide therapeutic care to patients and Public Health Service officers.
Lt. Cmdr. Abigail was named after the former First Lady of the United States, Abigail Adams, who has a historical connection to the service. The origin and history of the USPHS Commissioned Corps trace back to July 16, 1798, when Congress passed an Act, signed by President John Adams, creating the US Marine Hospital Service to protect against the spread of disease from sailors returning from overseas ports and thus began the story of the Public Health Service.
The concept of the service mascot originated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Public Health Service officers deployed to respond to the largest public health emergency in modern times. The mascot is intended to improve mental well-being, enhance camaraderie, and assist with public health messaging. When first appointed, the mascot receives an honorary rank in the USPHS Commissioned Corps equal to that of the primary handler. This honorary rank will not include any salary or retirement benefits.
Lt. Cmdr. Abigail, a Labrador Retriever, is a Warrior Canine Connection dog, who received special training to serve as a facility dog. Lt. Cmdr. Abigail will serve as a living symbol of the USPHS Commissioned Corps’ commitment to the greater public and protecting the nation’s health.
“The mascot is a very welcome resource for Public Health Service officers and the communities we serve. As we continue to see an increase in mental health struggles across the country, I hope Lt. Cmdr. Abigail will serve as a beacon of positivity as she performs her duties.” U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health, Adm. Rachel Levine
“We are thrilled to announce that the USPHS Commissioned Corps will now have its own mascot to support our officers and the communities they serve. Public Health Service officers work every day to protect the health and well-being of our communities, and we are grateful to now have a furry friend who can be a source of happiness and joy for them. Lt. Cmdr. Abigail will serve as a welcome member of the USPHS family.” U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Adm. Vivek Murthy
“A mascot serves as a symbol of unity and hope for the future. It is a rallying point for both our service, and for the communities we serve. We know animals have mental and physical benefits, and our mascot symbolizes our commitment to serving both needs for our communities.” Deputy U.S. Surgeon General, Rear Adm. Denise Hinton
“Having Lt. Cmdr. Abigail as our mascot gives the USPHS Commissioned Corps more opportunities to connect with patients and their families in a compassionate way to improve mental, physical, and emotional well-being. We are proud to have Lt. Cmdr. Abigail serve and deploy with Public Health Service officers as one of America’s Health Responders to promote health and safety in our nation.” Director of Commissioned Corps Headquarters, Rear Adm. Richard Schobitz.
The USPHS Commissioned Corps mascot program is made possible by a memorandum of understanding between the USPHS Commissioned Corps and the PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation. The mascot will be used for ceremonial purposes and accompany our officers as they work to protect the nation’s health.
The USPHS Commissioned Corps is one of the eight uniformed services and is the only uniformed service dedicated to protecting the nation’s public health. Public Health Service officers serve throughout the federal government to provide essential healthcare services to underserved and vulnerable populations; respond to public health emergencies or global emergencies; lead public health programs and policy development, and advance innovation science.
For more information on the USPHS Commissioned Corps and the service mascot, please visit: www.usphs.gov
About the Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Officers Foundation
The PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health was established in June 2000 as a not-for-profit organization to serve the education and research needs of the Commissioned Officers Association of the USPHS.