In Flint â€“ much like other communities in crisis throughout our countryâ€™s history â€“ that healing has been made possible, in part, by the work of the men and women of our U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Each time they are asked, these dedicated officers have stepped up to take on our countryâ€™s most pressing public health crises. They are not interested in cameras, just results.
From their first efforts in 1801 (as the Marine Hospital Service) to fight yellow fever, cholera and smallpox, to their more recent efforts in fighting to contain Ebola in West Africa, or Â providing mental health services after the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the officers of our Corps go where they are needed most.
That is true in Flint as well. Since the start of the crisis, more than 30 Commissioned Corps officers have been on the ground, assisting with behavioral health training, supporting volunteers, and staffing the Genesee County Health Departmentâ€™s information line. A strike force of Commissioned Corps officers has also worked closely with the Genesee County Health Department to clear a backlog of blood lead level screening results.
Recently, we announced our newest effort: Rear Admiral Michelle Dunwoody, an assistant U.S. surgeon general, serving as a temporary senior adviser to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. In this capacity, Dunwoody and her team will work closely with local leaders to establish immediate-, mid- and long-term goals for the City of Flint Public Health and Medical Recovery Plan. And they will continue to reach out to the people of Flint â€“ attending community meetings and working closely with our fellow public servants to coordinate response efforts.
I have seen, and heard about the impact that the men and women of the Corps are making in the lives of Flint residents. When they see our officersâ€™ uniforms, they know there is someone in the room they can trust. This trust deepens between residents and members of the Corps as they get to know one another. In fact, many of our officers are already known by name in Flint as a result of their tireless efforts to respond to community needs.
We know our work is far from finished in Flint. Working closely with our partner federal agencies, as well as nonprofits, faith-based groups and the private sector, we will remain committed to ensuring that every resident of this city has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. And throughout it all, the members of our Commissioned Corps will continue to represent a force for good in Flint, as leaders whom residents will be able to identify, lean on, and trust.