Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Nurse Professional Advisory Committee

CDR Cruise in front of the flagSpotlighting the Career of CDR Les Cruise

Biography Contributed by: CDR Nichole Vetter

This Nursing Spotlight is brought to you by CDR Amy Valderrama, LCDR Allison Gallen, and LT Alyssa Givens

CDR Les Cruise is currently detailed to the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Norfolk, VA. Commissioned in 2001, he served his first USPHS assignment as a nurse at FCI But-ner, a medium security prison located in Butner, NC. In 2003, he transferred to NOAA as the medical officer aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown which was stationed in Charleston, SC. "I took the job because that ship travels throughout the world and I have always enjoyed traveling." After sailing full-time for 3 years, CDR Cruise was reassigned to Norfolk, VA where he has filled many roles. He has served as the fleet Wellness Coor-dinator, Regional Director of Health Services for the Atlantic Fleet, and Deputy Director of Health Services.

Since April 2016, CDR Cruise has been serving as the acting Director of Health Services. His primary duty is to manage a comprehensive health program for NOAA Corps Offic-ers, civilian wage mariners, scientists, and contractors who sail, fly, or dive aboard NO-AA controlled ships and aircraft, or dive under the auspi-ces of NOAA’s dive program. Some of his primary re-sponsibilities are to develop the long- and short-range plans for the Health Services division, to plan and exe-cute an annual budget of over $7M, to oversee the divi-sion’s quality assurance program, and to manage a mul-tidisciplinary and geographically dispersed staff of USPHS officers and civilian support staff.

CDR Cruise recalls his best experience as a United States Public Health Service Officer was shortly after he had obtained his Underway Officer of the Deck (OOD) quali-fication while serving aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown.  After an extremely stressful night spent navigating the ship through an iceberg field in the Antarctic Ocean the ship’s commanding officer came to sick call the next morning to commend him for his performance as an OOD. CDR Cruise stated, "That experience vali-dated all of the effort and sacrifice required to become a PHS officer and OOD aboard that ship and will probably be the most memorable moment of my career."

CDR Cruise has participated in several different deployment experiences. He served as Chief of a medical team aboard the cruise ship, MS Holiday, which served as a FEMA shel-ter for nearly one thousand people whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. CDR Cruise has also deployed for two RDF training missions and as a member of NDMS medical teams supporting two Peace Officer Memorial Ceremonies, a State of the Union address, the United Nations General Assembly, and the Papal visit in New York City.

CDR cruise conveys the USPHS message by assisting the NPAC to publish the Federal Nursing Newsletter. He and other PHS officers detailed to NOAA routinely circulate travel advisories to ships based upon CDC recommendations. They also develop information packages addressing a variety of wellness topics for travelers and OMAO employees on the shore. He adds: "Each week I provide a briefing to OMAO leadership that often in-cludes links to HHS websites with articles or information on public health topics relevant to NOAA."

CDR Cruise advises new nurse officers in the PHS to stay mobile and to work for several agencies early in their careers. He doubts his career would have been as interesting or fulfilling if he had not changed agencies and served with NOAA. He states, "My service in the USPHS has been extremely rewarding because I’m serving two agencies whose mis-sions align with my personal values, beliefs, and interests. I truly believe that NOAA’s suc-cess or failure as our Nation’s environmental steward will have a lasting impact on our Nation’s public health."

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