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Rear Adm. Kevin Meeks spoke about his 32 years of service to the U.S Public Health Service Commissioned Corps at a special ceremony at the Chickasaw Nation Community Center in Oklahoma City, June 27

 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby praised Rear Adm. Kevin Meeks, Chickasaw, for 32 years of service to Native Americans through the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps, which administers Indian Health Service.

Meeks formally retired in a special ceremony June 27 at the Chickasaw Community Center with full honors witnessed by a contingent of colleagues, peers, friends and family.

“Your retirement is bittersweet for us. You’ve been so good to Indian Country and the Chickasaw Nation. You will be very, very difficult to replace. We appreciate your intelligence and the passion you have for the people you serve,” Governor Anoatubby said.

“You are a great example of servant leadership,” Governor Anoatubby said, citing one of the Chickasaw Nation’s core values that include 11 guiding principles of professional behavior for tribal leaders and employees.

Governor Anoatubby pointed out Meeks was a critical player in providing quality health care to 2.2 million Native Americans and represented tribes in self-governance negotiations. He was praised for providing Native Americans leadership and sage advice in a career where he served in many states and worked with countless tribes.

He was awarded the PHS Commissioned Corps’ Distinguished Service Medal during the ceremony.

Meeks, reared in Byng, earned degrees from East Central University in Ada and the University of Oklahoma where he graduated with a master’s degree of public health.

He began his career in 1987 as a service unit sanitarian at the Lower Brule/Crow Creek reservations in South Dakota. He ended his career as deputy director of field operations for Indian Health Service, the principle federal entity advocating and providing health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives. Meeks served from 2009-2017 as Oklahoma City area director, overseeing health care to the “largest and most diverse service population” managed by the Indian Health Service.

In addition to Governor Anoatubby, Rear Adm. Silvia Trent-Adams, principal deputy assistant secretary for health, and Rear Adm. Michael Weahkee, principal deputy director of Indian Health Service, lauded Meeks’ years of service.

Both told Meeks’ wife, Janice, to expect phone calls when the breadth of experience and knowledge possessed by her husband was required in the future – even though he is retired. Janice Meeks smiled broadly and nodded acceptance of the inevitable.

About PHS Commissioned Corps

As one of the United States’ seven uniformed services, the PHS Commissioned Corps fills public health leadership and service roles within federal government agencies and programs. The PHS Commissioned Corps includes officers drawn from many professions, including environmental and occupational health, medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, psychology, social work, hospital administration, health record administration, nutrition, engineering, science, veterinary, health information technology and other health-related occupations.

Officers of the corps wear uniforms similar to those of the United States Navy with special PHSCC insignia, and the corps uses the same commissioned officer ranks as the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Commissioned Officer Corps from ensign to admiral. Since June 1960, PHSCC has been considered military service for retirement purposes.

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