The Surgeon General is the head of the 6,000-member Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service, a troop of emergency health professionals who are on call 24 hours a day, and can be dispatched by the Surgeon General in the event of a public health emergency.
The Surgeon General also has many informal duties, such as educating the American public about health issues, and advocating healthy lifestyle choices.
The office also periodically issues health warnings. Perhaps the best known example of this is the "Surgeon General's Warning" labels that can be found on all packages of American cigarettes.
Past American Surgeons General have often been characterized by their outspoken personalities and often controversial proposals on how to reform the US health system. Because the office is not a paticularly powerful one, and has little direct impact on policy-making, Surgeons General are often vocal advocates of unconventional, unusual, or even unpopular health policies. General C. Everett Koop and Joycelyn Elders were two paticularly colorful former Surgeons General who were well-known for their controversial ideas.
The Office of the Surgeon General was an independent government agency until 1953 at which point it was integrated into the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and later into the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
|Name||Term of Office||Appointed by|
|John Maynard Woodworth||March 29, 1871 - March 14, 1879||Ulysses S. Grant|
|John B. Hamilton||April 3, 1879 - June 1, 1891||Rutherford B. Hayes|
|Walter Wyman||June 1, 1891 - November 21, 1911||Benjamin Harrison|
|Rupert Blue||January 13, 1912 - March 3, 1920||William Taft|
|Hugh Cumming||March 3, 1920 - April 6, 1936||Warren Harding|
|Thomas Parran||April 6, 1936 - April 6, 1948||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|Leonard A. Scheele||April 6, 1948 - August 8, 1956||Harry S. Truman|
|LeRoy Edgar Burney||August 1, 1956 - January 29, 1961||Dwight Eisenhower|
|Luther Leonidas Terry||March 2, 1961 - October 1 1965||John F. Kennedy|
|William H. Stewart||October 1, 1965 - August 1, 1969||Lyndon Johnson|
|Jesse Leonard Steinfeld||December 18, 1969 - June 30, 1973||Richard Nixon|
|Paul Ehrlich, Jr||July 1, 1973 - July 13, 1977||Richard Nixon|
|Julius B. Richmond||July 13, 1977 - May 14, 1981||Jimmy Carter|
|Edward Brandt, Jr||May 14, 1981 - January 21, 1982||Jimmy Carter|
|C. Everett Koop||January 21, 1982 - October 1, 1989||Ronald Reagan|
|James O. Mason||October 1, 1989 - March 9, 1990||George H. W. Bush|
|Antonia Coello Novello||March 9, 1990 - June 30, 1993||George H. W. Bush|
|Robert A. Whitney||July 1, 1993 - September 8, 1993||Bill Clinton|
|Joycelyn Elders||September 8, 1993 - December 31, 1994||Bill Clinton|
|Audrey F. Manley||January 1, 1995 - July 1, 1997||Bill Clinton|
|David Satcher||February 13, 1998 - August 5, 2002||Bill Clinton|
|Richard Carmona||August 5, 2002-||George W. Bush|