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The Army Medical Department Civilian Corps:
A Legacy of Distinguished Service, Page 8

The Army Medical Department Civilian Corps: A Legacy of Distinguished Service

The Army Medical Department Civilian Corps: A Legacy of Distinguished Service, page 7

An AMEDD Personnel Proponency Steering Committee (APPSC) was formed to establish the personnel proponent policies for the Medical Department, and this group deliberated the idea of creating a bona fide Civilian Corps Chief. The APPSC determined that such a position would be ineffective, since corps chiefs were functional area experts who managed personnel within their areas of specialization. AMEDD civilians were deemed too diverse a group to be managed by a single corps chief in this way, and the committee determined that the functional corps chiefs could manage civilians along with military members. However, the term “Corps Chief” continued to be applied to the Civilian Personnel Director in HSC and then MEDCOM, until it became something of a de facto truth. An article in the December 1996 issue of The Mercury hailed the arrival of a new AMEDD Civilian Corps Chief, Ms. Sharon Coleman Ferguson. The article compared the Civilian Corps to the other corps of the AMEDD, stating that, “By the mid-1990s… AMEDD civilians had a designated chief like other corps.”16 Ferguson noted that the 27,500 AMEDD civilians outnumbered all of the other corps in the AMEDD combined, and listed her goals for making the Civilian Corps “act like a real corps by boosting civilian professional standards, utilization, training and career development.”17

The legitimacy of the Civilian Corps Chief title received a boost the following August, when Army Surgeon General Ronald R. Blanck included Sharon Ferguson in a Mercury article he published about the roles of the AMEDD Corps Chiefs. Ferguson, who was then serving as MEDCOM’s Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel in addition to her role as Corps Chief, was listed as “Chief of the Civilian Corps, consisting of civilian employees of the AMEDD.”18 Ferguson had been serving in that position since March of 1996, and it is because of the Surgeon General’s public recognition of her as Corps Chief that we now celebrate 26 March 1996 as the founding date of the AMEDD Civilian Corps.

The Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 repealed the dual compensation restrictions that had kept many military retirees from entering civil service. This opened the door for many retired military personnel to bring their experience and expertise into the Civilian Corps, benefiting both the corps and the Army by preventing the perpetual loss of institutional knowledge. Many personnel in the AMEDD Civilian Corps today began their careers in uniform, and they have found that the leadership and technical skills they developed as Soldiers are still applicable as Army civilians.

The Medical Department proved to be remarkably prescient in establishing the AMEDD Civilian Corps, preceding the Army in a similar action by more than ten years. On 19 June 2006 Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker and Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey signed a memorandum establishing the Army Civilian Corps, calling Army civilians “a key capability of

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16 Harry Noyes, “New Chief Plans Changes for Civilians,” The Mercury, (December 1996), p. 8.
17 Ibid.
18 Ronald R. Blanck, “AMEDD Corps Chiefs Fulfill Many Roles,” The Mercury, (August 1997), p. 3.