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Richard Storch (M.S.W. '70)
Richard Storch (M.S.W. '70)

Richard Storch (M.S.W. '70) says that his most gratifying experiences as a social worker have come as a commissioned officer with the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

"Most people do not even know the Corps exists! For me, a career with the corps was a great opportunity to work with a variety of agencies and really make a difference," said Storch.

The US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHS) is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. According to their website, "the Corps works to protect public health through rapid and effective response to public health needs, leadership and excellence in public health practices, and the advancement of health science."

As a Commissioned officer, Storch provided outpatient mental health services for the Nez Perce tribe for 15 years. For the last three years of his career prior to retirement, Storch worked at the Division of Immigration Health Services, where he addressed the mental health needs of detainees awaiting immigration hearings.

In addition to working with agencies to advance public health, the Corps is charged with preparing a Readiness Force, available at 24 hour notice to help in case of natural or man made disasters. Storch was deployed twice in his career to help in such emergencies.

Following 9-11, Storch worked at ground zero providing mental health services for rescue and recovery workers and linking fire fighters and police officers up with local services. "I like serving my nation and being available to help in times of crisis. It was a great opportunity to practice clinical crisis and networking skills and to meet the needs of our nation at the same time," he said.

Storch was deployed again last year to St. Bernard Parish, near New Orleans, to help community members in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. "I provided outpatient mental health services in a triple wide trailer in a Wal-Mart parking lot for people who lost everything," he described. "The appreciation expressed by individuals and the community made it a very meaningful and gratifying experience."

Storch enjoyed an incredible career of service with PHS and encourages M.S.W. students to look into the Corps. For more information, including contact information for social workers in the corps, you can visit http://www.usphs.gov/