U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
HOME   Office of the Surgeon General   Submit An Article    Subscribe/Unsubscribe    Contact Us  
Volume 10, No. 3     Sept 08, 2014
In Brief...
Prior Issues...
PDF Archives
Operational Dress Uniform (ODU)

As the sundown date for the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) draws near, 1 January 2015, officers should not wait until late December 2014 to replace their BDUs with the ODU. To date, roughly half of the Corps has already converted to at least one complete set of ODUs and necessary accoutrements. Please keep in mind that the Coast Guard Uniform Distribution Center (UDC) may not have all sizes available on 1 January, since demand may outpace supply as many officers may wait until the last minute to order the ODU. For officers who have not yet began the process for ordering the ODUs, please follow this link: Ordering the ODU

Leather Name Patch for Navy Sweater

This is a reminder that the leather name patch for the Navy sweater must be black. Nicknames or “call-signs”, degrees or certifications behind one’s name are not authorized. All letters shall be gold and the skill badge shall be in the correct color (gold or silver) from the awarding uniformed service. The Corps logo, the Cap device, Agency or OPDIV/STAFFDIV logos and Identification Badges are not authorized.

Questions and Answers

  • Q.
  • When placing the rank insignia and collar device on the ODU, what is the proper placement?

  • A.
  • The placement of the rank insignia and collar device is the same as on the BDU. Collar rank insignia shall be worn on the right collar, centered on an imaginary line bisecting the angle of the collar point; the center of the device shall be 1½ inches perpendicularly from each collar edge. The O-6 eagle should face forward. The PHS Corps device, consisting of a fouled anchor and caduceus crossed as in the seal of the Service, shall be embroidered in subdued thread on olive green background material. The device shall be 1 inch by 1 inch. The Corps device shall be sewn on the left collar with the caduceus falling along an imaginary line bisecting the angle of the collar point with the anchor pointing inward. The center of the device shall be 1½ inches perpendicularly from each collar edge.

  • Q.
  • What uniforms are required to be owned/maintained by Corps officers? Are all officers required to own/maintain the required uniforms?

  • A.
  • All officers, except officers participating in the Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (COSTEP) and in the Senior COSTEP, shall maintain all required components of the Service Dress Blue (SDB) and Operational Dress Uniform (ODU). In addition, officers are responsible for buying and maintaining other uniforms as required by their prescribing authority. Sufficient quantities of uniform items shall be procured and maintained in order to assure the highest possible standard of personal hygiene and appearance. When officers are participating in or observing official functions/ceremonies (promotion, retirement, awards, change of command etc), officers may be required to wear other uniforms that are defined in the uniform of the day memorandum for the specific event (e.g. Summer Whites, Dinner Dress Blue Jacket, Full Dress Blue uniform, etc). Event planners may choose the uniform as appropriate, for the event at hand.

  • Q.
  • When wearing the Army Cardigan Sweater or the Windbreaker Jacket indoors, can they be worn open (unbuttoned or unzipped)?

  • A.
  • No. The simple rule is if it has a button, button it; if it has a zipper, zip it. All buttons on the Army Cardigan must be buttoned when worn. The zipper on the Windbreaker Jacket must be zipped at least ¾ of the way to the top. Additionally, while indoors, the Windbreaker Jacket is not to be zipped all the way to the top.

  • Q.
  • With the closing of the PHS Officers Device Supply Center, where can I get a new PHS nametag?

  • A.
  • The uniform shop at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Navy Exchange currently sells the basic PHS version of the nametag. You may call (301) 295-1489 to place your order. Officers assigned to the FDA, BOP, IHS, EPA, SAMHSA, and CDC will be able to purchase the nametag with the agency button at Walter Reed Exchange in the next few weeks.


Basic Uniform Components. Uniform items required as part of the basic uniform. These are the minimum items which must be worn unless the prescribing authority directs otherwise.

Prescribable Items. Uniform items which may be directed or authorized with the basic uniform. Prescribable items may be worn with the basic uniform at the individual's discretion unless otherwise directed.

Optional Item. Uniform items purchased at the wearer's expense, which may be worn with the basic uniform, but which are not prescribable. Optional items may be worn with the basic uniform at the individual's discretion unless otherwise directed.

Conspicuous. Obvious to the eye, attracting attention, striking, bright in color. Should blend with, not stand out from, a professional appearance in uniform. What is conspicuous on one person may not be noticeable on another. If attention is naturally drawn to or distracted from the professional appearance, it is conspicuous.

Conservative. Not conspicuous or detracting from the professional appearance while in uniform.

Faddish. A style followed for a short period of time with exaggerated zeal. Styles are enduring; fads are generally short in duration and frequently started by an individual or event in the civilian community. Fads are generally conspicuous and detract from a professional appearance.

Compliments Skin Tone. A conservative color which contributes to the wearer's natural skin tone. Conservative colors are generally inconspicuous and do not detract from a professional appearance in uniform.