HHS Secretary's Operation Center Deployment, 2020
By LCDR Jorge Muñiz Ortiz
US Environment Protection Agency
What is your current assignment in USPHS?
I am assigned to HRSA as an Investment Oversight Advisor.
What was the mission of this deployment?
I deployed to the HHS Secretary's Operation Center from February 6-19, 2020. I was assigned to the Resource Coordination Section. Our mission was to ensure personnel receiving repatriated American citizens or legal residents being flown from China had the resources necessary to accomplish the mission.
What was your role during this deployment?
My role was to receive "Request for Resources" sent by field logistics officers and identify the HHS personnel that could fulfill the requests. Once identified, the requests were forwarded to HHS personnel that could acquire and deliver the resources. I used my communications and organizational skills to fulfill the mission..
Was this your first deployment? Either way, how did you prepare for the deployment, personally or work-wise?
No, this was not my first deployment. I prepared by asking my mentors what could I be looking forward to and communicating with other officers who were already deployed there to prepare better for the mission.
Any advice or “pearls of wisdom” for fellow officers who are being deployed or are interested in deploying?
Always be ready for deploying by packing the necessary and being flexible. Follow the chain of command. Do the work without complaining and without thinking of what's in it for you.
What was the most important thing you learned during this deployment?
I learned how the SOC is run during an emergency response.
What were some of the key challenges that you experienced?
Not having answers to some questions sent from the field. Being the resource for items and personnel to various geographical locations
What did you enjoy the most (e.g., favorite memory) about this deployment?
The relationships I formed with other PHS officers, SOC personnel, and officers of other uniformed services.
What would you consider your major accomplishment stemming from this deployment?
My major accomplishment from this deployment was that I was able to fulfill the needs of federal personnel in the field by making sure they received the necessary supplies for them to fulfill their mission.
Were there any classes or trainings that helped you in your deployment?
No, there were no classes or trainings that helped besides what we learned at OBC. I was trained to do this job during the actual deployment by the officer I was back filling for, other logistics officers, and the section chief.
How was your post deployment/reintegration experience? Was it a smooth transition back to your daily activities?
I took two days of leave after ending my deployment and reintegrated smoothly.
Please feel free to share anything else regarding your deployment to highlight your experiences or to increase the readiness of fellow officers.
For this kind of deployment (working in the Resource Coordination Branch at the SOC) I would try to identify an SOP as quickly as possible or draft one if there's not one so that the process is clear. This will allow the mission to proceed at a somewhat normal pace. Also, I would recommend being ready/open to change the processes as the deployment moves along. I learned some of the processes as time went along, but it's better to learn everything.