By Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general, and chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
On behalf of Navy Medicine and a grateful nation, I extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Medical Service Corps (MSC) as they celebrate 67 years of faithful and dedicated service. In recognition of the corps’ anniversary, I wanted to share some stories about my relationship with the MSC.
I’m not sure many people know this, but I am an honorary ensign in the MSC. I was given that distinction by the former Medical Service Corps Chief and Deputy Surgeon General, Rear Adm. Michael Mittelman. You might be asking why I deserve this title. I believe one of my first encounters with an MSC officer will help explain it.
I was assigned to Naval Hospital Beaufort, South Carolina. I was convinced that my pay and my housing allowance weren’t right. I was sent to the patient administration officer to talk about it and she had absolutely no sympathy for me. I told her that she was just an “administrator” who didn’t understand the plight of physicians. She replied that I was an “overpaid doctor who worried too much about my pay.” We’ve been married for over 20 years now.
So I believe that being married to my wife Tammy, who is now a retired MSC officer, for 21 years has entitled me as an honorary member, although she might argue that point.
My career has also been greatly influenced by a MSC officer named Russ Brown, who was one of my commanding officers. His mentoring and guidance put me on a trajectory to succeed, and I’ll always be grateful for that.
I truly have great appreciation for the MSC and its more than 30 individual specialties. It is such a diverse corps and I am constantly amazed by the breadth and knowledge that these officers possess. Their passion for science – from research, to operational medicine, to health care administration – is unmatched.
Over the past year, I have witnessed their many achievements and contributions at home and abroad. Whether serving at sea, on deployments and humanitarian missions, clinics, inpatient facilities, and research units around the world, MSC officers continue to lead from the front lines. Their commitment and service have left an unprecedented mark on the history of the United States Navy and the care we provide each and every day.
I am proud to serve with such an outstanding group of professionals. To the over 2,900 active duty and reserve Medical Service Corps officers, congratulations on a job well done and happy 67th birthday! I am honored to be an honorary member of this elite group.