USPHS Officer Forum - PHSChat

PHSChat

PEB Forum Regular Member
Everyone with USPHS Officer interests,

I would greatly appreciate it if you would become members at PHSChat, a forum I created specifically for USPHS Officers.

The location is www.phschat.com/forums

I am the Admin, I am an active duty USPHS officer.

It seems that PHSChat could use your expertise, please come to the forum and introduce yourselves. If there are words to the wise for USPHS officers, this would be one of the best places to communicate with officers. The forum is young and growing.

I have created a Medical Review Board forum here: Medical Review Board - PHSChat Forums and PHSChat Wikipedia

PHSChat
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
PHSChat,

I will stop by your forum sometime soon. I just took a look, nice job...It took me a really long time to figure out some of the layout and modifications that you have already done. Looks like you are off to a great start.
 

PHSChat

PEB Forum Regular Member
You have a great looking forum that obviously provides a much needed service. I hope to get there someday with mine. I was checking out your video selection; that is a nice add-on! I'll try to find out more about it.

Thanks for checking out the PHSChat forum. I think your input and input from others on your site would be a real service to our officers, Jason.
 

carnelli53

Moderator
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Hey PHSChat,

Nice layout. I took a look around (let me say I am no web designing guru) and thought it looked great. I was going to sign up and take a look at what's in some of the threads but I can not in good faith say I am a medical professional for the sake of peeking around the forum - is there a guest login feature one can use?
 

PHSChat

PEB Forum Regular Member
You should be able to view everything in the threads as a visitor, no guest login is required. Membership is open to anyone with a PHS interest. If you can't view the forum content, let me know at forums "at" phschat dot com and I'll check my settings. And thanks regarding the layout, that was the fun part...
 

xeno

Super Moderator
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
I was looking around for about 5 minutes or so. Left wonder what the heck does the acronym PHS or USPHS stand for. My good friend google let me know. Then I finally saw it on your root page.
Makes it kind of hard to get any ranking in analytics.
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
X,

That is a good point. I have wrestled with that issue, i.e., how important it is to have URLs and keywords that are more broad and perhaps descriptive (and maybe casts a wider net). On the one hand, I think that there is value in casting that wider net so that people who may not know what a PEB is will at least realize the focus of the site and pass us along to the Servicemember they know who need us....on the other hand, part of me says that anyone who is going to a PEB, should know the acronym. On the other other hand, you see how many people here mess up the acronyms and the differences between the boards. But, for a niche site, it is hard for me to judge the relative importance... Has your experience admining other boards given you any insight on this? Have you been through the growth of a site, from small to big? I am always curious how things go, I feel good about what we've done here, but think we can be better.

PHSChat,

These comments kind of role into Xeno's, one thing I did notice is that you don't have vBSEO, and your URLs are not Search Engine friendly...I don't know if you have thought about that stuff. Again, with a niche site, I think you will likely climb to top of Google for USPHS or PHS keywords. But, using Search Engine Optimization stuff, you may get there faster. I did notice a big jump in members since I have started with vBSEO...on the other hand (I am running out of hands), I don't know if you saw this, but vbulletin 4.0 is out in a few months and they are going to implement a lot of SEO functions.
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
PHSChat,

You may want to make your welcome message an image. This will help with Search engine placement by cutting out the inclusion of the "wasted" words as site content when it is searched. This will increase the ratio of keywords to content.

Also, consider using h1, h2 tags...
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
You should be able to view everything in the threads as a visitor, no guest login is required. Membership is open to anyone with a PHS interest. If you can't view the forum content, let me know at forums "at" phschat dot com and I'll check my settings. And thanks regarding the layout, that was the fun part...
I just tried to register, but you have to select a number of PHS specific required information (Category/Grade).
 

PHSChat

PEB Forum Regular Member
Jason,

I fixed the Category/Grade fields to include non-USPHS.

Thanks to you and Xeno for the tips about search engine optimizations. That is one subject that I have overlooked for a lot of reasons. I have a lot of research to do in that regard to figure out what you're describing. It's good to know another vb Admin because I really don't know much, so I appreciate whatever advice you can give. I'm self-taught on this since last August.

-P
 

xeno

Super Moderator
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
X,

That is a good point. I have wrestled with that issue, i.e., how important it is to have URLs and keywords that are more broad and perhaps descriptive (and maybe casts a wider net). On the one hand, I think that there is value in casting that wider net so that people who may not know what a PEB is will at least realize the focus of the site and pass us along to the Servicemember they know who need us....on the other hand, part of me says that anyone who is going to a PEB, should know the acronym. On the other other hand, you see how many people here mess up the acronyms and the differences between the boards. But, for a niche site, it is hard for me to judge the relative importance... Has your experience admining other boards given you any insight on this? Have you been through the growth of a site, from small to big? I am always curious how things go, I feel good about what we've done here, but think we can be better.

PHSChat,

These comments kind of role into Xeno's, one thing I did notice is that you don't have vBSEO, and your URLs are not Search Engine friendly...I don't know if you have thought about that stuff. Again, with a niche site, I think you will likely climb to top of Google for USPHS or PHS keywords. But, using Search Engine Optimization stuff, you may get there faster. I did notice a big jump in members since I have started with vBSEO...on the other hand (I am running out of hands), I don't know if you saw this, but vbulletin 4.0 is out in a few months and they are going to implement a lot of SEO functions.

Well Jason good news,

Your # 1 on google & yahoo for "physical evaluation board". And just looking at the cache tells you why.

Physical Evaluation Board

Physical Evaluation Board

It's all about the front page (domain root) and key words used in natural way. The domain name plays in to it also.
All search engines use proprietary analytics to drill the site & keywords.

Then after you been "in business" for w while then the search engines finds link backs to your site which helps alot also.
People clicking on your site from the search engine helps also.

My site reached to about where yours is now, then it will start to draw "unwanted" element. Like spam bots. Spam posters. But worse of all, hackers.
So you have to keep an eye out for vulnerability in the code & also in the "engine" that the server uses (php/sql). You have to have a good provider that keeps up with the newer versions at a moderate pace.

Here is where my board failed at. I did not practice restoring (verifying that the backup code was actually good) and the lack of the service provider keeping up with newest versions. It got hacked and usable backup was stale (Alas, not testing my backup/restorers). And it never really recovered from the months of posts that were lost. It got hacked again and the service provider would not update code to prevent it. I said F it and let the domain expire (and some squatters swooped it and bought it for residue traffic with-in minutes of it expiring)

Downtime & loss of data can kill or stun the growth of a nice board. Pratice offline restorals :D
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
X,

Thanks for the insight. I definitely need to stay on top of the backups...I don't know if you or anyone remembers, I had a really bad night about a year ago, I thought I had lost everything in the database. Took me many hours to sort out the problems.

I am crossing my fingers that we don't end up with hackers targeting us. I think we are good with hosting and updates (he says, praying that this is so and that he just did not jinx himself) :)
 

carnelli53

Moderator
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
I've been peeking around the USPHS forum over the past hour or so. It is very interesting observing the day-to-day discussions that take place there, at least relative to what goes on in the Armed Services.

One thing I have issue with is what I was reading in this post:

http://www.phschat.com/wiki/index.php?title=PHSChat_Wiki:Current_events

As members of the uniformed services, I think the NOAA and USPHS are entitled to these benefits (many a time they are attached in a certain capacity to Armed Service branches, from what I have come to understand). Just my thoughts.

And sheesh, things have changed since I started tooling around with webpages in the mid-90s (writing HTML in notepad)! Xeno, good to hear we are numero uno!
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
No, the new GI Bill uses a different definition of member of the Armed Forces:

"(10) The term "Armed Forces" means the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, including the reserve components thereof."

38 USC § 101

For most VA purposes USPHS are covered. But not for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
 

carnelli53

Moderator
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Jason,

I figured the statutory language left them out. If I were USPHS/NOAA I would be fired up! Especially if I deployed to a combat zone with one of the Armed Services.
 

carnelli53

Moderator
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Just an update to this thread, I came across this on the Federal VA website:

Commissioned officers of the Public Health Service (PHS) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) who served at least 90 days of active duty service after September 10, 2001, will qualify for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. To qualify for the full benefit, individuals must have served at least 3 years of active duty after September 10, 2001

The link can be found here: https://www.gibill2.va.gov/vba/vba....2VhcmNoX3RleHQ9cG9zdC05LzEx&p_li=&p_topview=1
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Interesting. I haven't had time to look at the regulations, I wonder if they are covering all USPHS /NOAA members or only those with service assigned or attached to the Navy or Coast Guard. From my experience, I know that members are often detailed to other agencies (like doctors to the Federal Bureau of Prisons or to the National Institutes of Health). I don't know if the VA is making a distinction between these categories of service.

Has anyone followed up on the USPHS Chat site to see if they are finding the benefits apply to all or just some?
 

PHSChat

PEB Forum Regular Member
Thank you carnelli, for the research on USPHS officer eligibility for the Post 9-11 GI Bill, and pointing to the discussion thread on the PEB forum.

Many of our officers saw this on our Commissioned Officers Association website but it bears repeating here:

Post-9/11 GI Bill Sign Up Begins

04/30/2009 - Beginning 1 May 2009, the VA Education Service will begin taking applications to determine service members' eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill program, which commences on 1 August 2009. A copy of VA's 'timeline' slide and other info is at the link below. The VA's website has additional information and a link to the application at http://www.gibill.va.gov/.
Click here to see the slides.

You might be interested in this too. PHS Officers accept as a fact of life that we often get no respect as a uniformed service, even among the very government agencies that are tasked with administering our benefits. You would never know that we've been around so long .

Post-9/11 GI Bill: Occasional Misinformation from the Veterans Administration


06/19/2009 -
Did you apply for benefits under the New GI Bill and get turned down? Were you told that PHS officers aren't eligible? Did you get an annoying letter to this effect?
Hard to believe, but this has happened to some COA members. Click here if this has happened to you.
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Excellent information!

Here is an extract from the Final VA Rule http://www.coausphs.org/documents/06.19.09VAMisinformationLink1.pdf :

"One commenter requested clarification on why commissioned officers of the Public Health Service (PHS) are excluded from eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Another commenter requested a review of 42 U.S.C. 213(d) to determine if PHS officers qualify for the new benefit and suggested National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officers also be included as eligible. We agree that commissioned officers of PHS and NOAA are eligible for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In a digested opinion from 1985, our General Counsel read the provisions of 42 U.S.C. 213 regarding PHS and 33 U.S.C. 857–1 and 857–3 (now in 33 U.S.C. 3002 and 3072, respectively) regarding NOAA as expanding the definition of ‘‘Armed Forces’’ in 38 U.S.C. 101(10) to also include PHS and NOAA for purposes of benefits administered by VA. See VADIGOP, 6–26–85 (8–28 Reentry in Active Service). Therefore, service as a commissioned officer of PHS or NOAA meets the ‘‘active duty in the Armed Forces’’ service requirement in section 3311 of title 38, U.S.C."

"Benefits Costs
The benefit costs for implementing this final rule are slightly higher than
the cost of implementing the proposed rule based on the opinion of our General Counsel that members of the PHS and NOAA are eligible for educational assistance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
We estimate that the addition of PHS and NOAA members will result in an
additional 332 trainees per year at the cost of $2.1 million for FY 2009 and
nearly $56.5 million over 10 years."

So, it is clear all USPHS and NOAA uniformed members are eligible. As some of the links provided in the earlier post show, though, there may be problems in the administration of the benefit. I can see how individual Regional Offices may not be familiar with the requirements of the new Final Rule and the eligibility for benefits. I think that including the rule in an application may be helpful. If not, then a Notice of Disagreement would be the way to appeal.

USPHSChat,

I would say that I understand the "acceptance" of the fact that there may be little respect for USPHS/NOAA uniformed members status. I am sure that many hold this view. However, this should not diminish pride in service and professionalism members should have in their Corps. Likely a matter, to some degree, of a lack of knowledge and education about the respective organizations, this does not diminish the vital service that the USPHS provides. In dealing with major medical crises, the USPHS has the lead. If there is a worsening of the Swine Flu contagion or if there is a major health catastrophe, we had better give thanks to the efforts of the USPHS. They are our nations first line responders to large medical crises.

Thanks for posting the information. We are interested in educating all Servicemembers on issues regarding their benefits.
 
data-matched-content-ui-type="image_stacked" data-matched-content-rows-num="3" data-matched-content-columns-num="1" data-ad-format="autorelaxed">
Top