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America's Health Responders - U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS
Volume 8, No. 2     March 30, 2012
UPDATE on the Woodland Battle Dress Uniform (BDU).
On December 12, 2011, the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) signed the Decision Memorandum and a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) that the Corps will begin wearing the untucked NOAA version of the Operational Dress Uniform (ODU). The NOAA/PHS ODU is different from the standard USCG untucked ODU in that it does not have the embroidered USCG logo on the front of the ODU shirt or on the side pockets of the ODU trousers. There have already been some frequently asked questions so I will address some of the concerns here.

  • Q.
  • Will we be able to wear our black PHS t-shirt and/or command ball cap with the new ODU?

  • A.
  • No. The black PHS t-shirt and command ball cap are only to be worn with the BDU. Mixing of ODU and BDU components will not be authorized. The new command ball cap will be navy blue with direct embroidered bright rank insignia. No more metal “frogs” sticking into ones forehead. The command ball cap may also be hook-and-loop fastened, flexifit or plastic tab fastened. This will be at the officer’s personnel discretion as to which cap type they prefer. Also, the new PHS t-shirt will be navy blue with the same gold logo and printing as is the current style, however, a moisture-wicking option will be available for wear by officers who are not in situations where a fire hazard is a possibility.

  • Q.
  • Can I go to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) or any Navy Exchange (NEX) and buy the ODU?

  • A.
  • No, WRNNMC only sells Army, Navy, and some Air Force and Marine Corps uniforms and components. The NEX only sells Navy or Marine Corps uniforms and components. For the most part, the ODUs will only be available through the USCG Uniform Distribution Center (UDC) for online or phone-in orders. Most USCG Exchanges will not carry the NOAA/PHS version of the untucked ODU. Prior to the beginning of the phase-in period a Personnel Operations Memorandum (POM) will be issued explaining in great detail as to when and how Corps officers who are not detailed to the USCG will be able to obtain the ODUs.

  • Q.
  • Can I buy the ODUs now to beat the rush?

  • A.
  • No. We are not implementing right now since we still have to confirm a few steps in the process. When we do release the complete packet, it will not only give us the authorization to implement, but also the exact specs of the uniform and a POM that will be issued to describe how and when you will be able to order you ODUs. The UDC and the Corps are in agreement at this time, no Corps officers may order the NOAA/PHS versions of the ODU until the UDC has received clearance. This will avoid any discrepancies.

  • Q.
  • What/when is the phase-in period? Will I still be able to wear my BDUs during the transition?

  • A.
  • The planned phase-in will be tentatively set for 1 May 2012 with a 12 month phase until 1 May, 2013. You will still be able to wear you BDUs during the transition, however, on and after 1 May 2013, the BDUs will no longer be an authorized Corps uniform.

  • Q.
  • I have several olive drab or woodland patterned accessories (e.g., GI duffel bag, ALICE packs, aviators bag, etc), will I have to buy all new blue items for the ODU?

  • A.
  • No, if the olive drab or woodland patterned accessories are still serviceable, they may be utilized with the ODU. This does not include any required uniform pieces such as boots, ball cap, T-Shirt, etc.) If you are buying new items for the ODU, the items may only be black in color. However, it is suggested by leadership to make every attempt to appear coordinated in the ODU uniform.

  • Q.
  • Will I have to buy new combat boots?

  • A.
  • If your current combat boots are solid black leather/black fabric (Jungle boots) you may wear them with the ODU. Olive drab fabric jungle boots or the brown brushless boots are not authorized with the ODU.

  • Q.
  • Will we be using the white letter name tapes like USCG and NOAA?

  • A.
  • No, the Corps will use the gold letter name tapes. These are the same tapes that are utilized on the Navy Coveralls.

  • Q.
  • Does the ODU fit the same as the BDU?

  • A.
  • For the most part, yes, however, here are the Uniform Distribution Center’s charts for ensuring proper sizing and wear.  http://www.uscg.mil/hr/udc/ODUUntuckedUniforms.asp