OCTOBER 15, 2020 – The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) is scheduled to debut a physical training uniform (PTU) tailored specifically for the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) in December 2020. This PTU will be the first official physical training uniform for the USPHS Commissioned Corps and will be similar in style to the optional Navy PTUs.
“NEXCOM has supported the USPHS Commissioned Corps for some time and they are currently authorized to wear our (Navy) dinner dress uniforms, our service dress uniforms and summer white uniforms,” said Paul Shields, NEXCOM Associate Director for the Uniform Program Management Office. “What they don’t have from a uniform perspective is a physical training uniform and that is what we are working right now, to establish a USPHS PTU, which will include t-shirts, shorts, sweatpants and hoodies, and eventually a fitness suit, similar to what the Navy uses. The USPHS will follow what the Navy uses when it comes to its uniforms.”
While the USPHS Commissioned Corps does seem to emulate the dress styles of the Navy, one big difference is apparent, the logo.
“USPHS requested our assistance in procuring a physical training uniform that included a high performance shirt, high performance short, fleece hoodie and sweat pant,” said Lindsay Vance Bean, NEXCOM Divisional Merchandise Manager of Uniforms. “Luckily we already had these components on the Navy side with the ‘Forged by the Sea’ program. They wanted to retain the design properties of ‘Forged by the Sea’ but with the addition of their unique logo. We were able to send them samples and, working back and forth, the results were a physical training uniform for USPHS that met all of their requirements.”
Although the PTU is very similar to that of the Navy, there were still technical aspects to work out between NEXCOM and the USPHS Commissioned Corps, especially to make sure that the garments and the logo hold up to laundering tests and other subsequent tests.
“As far as the logo went, my team developed the artwork and received USPHS approval. From there, we worked with our industry partners to make sure that their approved logo could be put on the fabric. We will be doing some laundering tests to make sure that the logo can withstand up to 50 wash cycles,” said Louise Caulfield, Group Leader for Uniforms and Certification Team at NEXCOM’s Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility (NCTRF) in Natick, Mass.
In addition to the product testing, NEXCOM and the USPHS Commissioned Corps also faced setbacks in terms of time and resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Overall, we have been able to manage and mitigate any delays in pushing the project forward. COVID-19 has created issues from a staffing perspective with our vendors at some point, but overall, we have been able to maintain that entire timeline and push things forward,” said Bean.
Even with a short timeline, great teamwork allowed them to get their product approved and is scheduled to be released on time.
“We started working on this project in May,” said Shields. “When you look at how initial discussions went, defining the USPHS requirement, getting the design and logo right and then getting the PTU into testing and production in October, it has only been about six months.”
With the project on track to be released in December, NEXCOM hopes the USPHS Commissioned Corps will consider them moving forward in regards to any future uniform changes it may have.
“The partnership that we have generated with the USPHS and the collaboration we’ve had will lend itself to future projects,” said Shields. “So, if USPHS decides it has uniform needs in the future, we stand by ready to assist them.”
Navy Exchange Service Command