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The C. Everett Koop Papers

Letter from Luther L. Terry to C. Everett Koop pdf (116,041 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Luther L. Terry to C. Everett Koop
Koop and Luther Terry (1911-1985) had been colleagues on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine before Terry became U.S. Surgeon General in 1961. Terry became widely known when he released his seminal 1964 report on the health consequences of smoking. In this personal letter, Terry encouraged Koop to commit himself to the revitalization of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps as a way of overcoming political opposition to his appointment among public health professionals, who suspected Koop of supporting the Reagan administration's attempt to reduce the size of the Public Health Service and abolish the Commissioned Corps. Koop soon dispelled such suspicion by giving Congressional testimony in favor of the Corps and by becoming the first Surgeon General in a generation to wear the official Surgeon General's uniform.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (116,041 Bytes)
1982-02-22 (February 22, 1982)
Terry, Luther L.
ARA Services
Koop, C. Everett
Reproduced with permission of Luther L. Terry Jr.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
United States Public Health Service
Exhibit Category:
Biographical Information
Box Number: 10
Folder Number: 5
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Sequential Files
SubSeries: February 1982
February 22, 1982
Dear Chick:
This is intended as a very personal and confidential note to you. Under the circumstances, you may wish to share it with Ed Brandt but that is up to your discretion.
As you realize you came into your present position under a relatively dark cloud. You were not only actively opposed by the American Public Health Association, but were looked upon with a great deal of skepticism by the personnel of the Public Health Service, both Commissioned Officers and Civil Service personnel. Many feel that you are a "face" which has been brought into the current situation to destroy everything for which they have stood.
The closest thing to your situation was when Julius Richmond was named Surgeon General. He was the first Surgeon General who was not chosen from the Commissioned Corps of the PHS. Yet, he had the advantage of having served as the originator and operator of "Head Start" and had his credentials in the field of public health. Even so, Julius felt that he faced a challenge in gaining credence with the professional personnel of the Service. He made a great effort to make it clear that he was a part of the team. He assembled the past Surgeon Generals of the PHS for the 150th Anniversary of the PHS. As a matter of fact, he did much better than most of us "old liners" in effecting a good image as a part of and leader of the Public Health Service. I must admit that he had an administrative or organizational advantage since he was both Assistant Secretary and Surgeon General. Though you do not have this advantage, it may be that you or with Ed Brandt may be able to reflect this image. I think that you should make a concerted effort to save the PHS as a proud team.
There is no question in my mind but that the PHS has been traditionally recognized as the finest example of a responsible government organization. This was illustrated to me when serving as Surgeon General, the Congress recognized us as non-political professionals and on most issues I could expect as much support from one side of the aisle as the other. Surely, there were dissents but they were on the basis of personal convictions.
I hope that you can help to preserve the tradition and integrity of the Public Health Service.
Luther L. Terry, M. D.
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