The Public Health Service's Secret Presence at Fort Bayard


The U.S Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps has long been referred to as “the best kept secret” for many reasons. While the U.S. military plays a huge role in developing new medical technologies and treatments to fight disease, the PHS is usually working right alongside it to fulfill the mission. 

Fort Bayard is a historical military installation nestled in Southwestern New Mexico that was established in 1866 to protect miners and settlers from conflict with indigenous Apache tribes. It was one of the forts that the legendary Buffalo Soldiers were stationed at and housed a Medal of Honor recipient. 

It now contains one of just two national VA cemeteries in the state of New Mexico.

In 1900, when U.S. and indigenous conflict began to settle, the fort was converted into a tuberculosis sanitarium for American veterans. It was noted that the high altitude and dry climate were ideal conditions in the management of tuberculosis.

The tuberculosis hospital was managed by the Army from until 1919 when it was then transferred to PHS. In 1922, the hospital became part of the Veteran’s Bureau.

Sometimes the Corps blends right in, and you just might miss it if you don’t look hard enough!



Have you discovered an interesting piece of the PHS past? I'd love for you to share! Email me at


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  • Carol Schultz Vento on

    My grandmother was a PHS nurse at Fort Bayard and then caught TB and became a patient there. She was at the sanitarium for almost a year.

  • Ray Branson on

    I think Fort Stanton in Lincoln County has some USPHS history also. If I remember there is a small museum there. Thanks for the info on Fort Bayard. I will have to visit.

  • Matty on

    Nifty historical find!

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