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LT Brenda Riojas | Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service Skip to main content

LT Brenda Riojas

May 2022 Officer Spotlight

“It’s these special moments that made me realize why I became a Public Health Service officer. Those connections are something you can never replace. This is where I belong.”

Deployed to Travis Air Force Base during the Accompanied Children and Families, U.S. Repatriation COVID-19 mission, LT Brenda Riojas, a Public Health Service officer with the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, provided medical and social health case management services for hundreds of repatriates from Wuhan, China. Working alongside fellow Public Health Service officers and federal responders. LT Riojas connected repatriates with interpreter services as well as transportation and financial assistance services.  

LT Riojas has deployed multiple times in service to others in need to include Hurricane Maria in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Providing comfort and care for patients in the aftermath of such devastation was a highlight in her career because she was able to connect with the communities that she served in the Federal Medical Station. “It’s these special moments that made me realize why I became a Public Health Service officer,” said LT Riojas when reflecting on her deployments with the USPHS Commissioned Corps. Although these were tragic moments, she built long-lasting relationships with other Public Health Service officers and the people of Puerto Rico. LT Riojas reiterated, “Those connections are something you can never replace.”  

LT Riojas joined the USPHS Commissioned Corps seven years ago to promote healthy lifestyles among Native American communities while embracing her own Native American heritage. Working for the Indian Health Service (IHS) and the USPHS Commissioned Corps became her goal after serving as a Dietetic Intern with the Southwest Dietetic Internship at Phoenix Indian Medical Center. She strives to connect with every patient and learn from the elders and community leaders.

As a Dietitian in her second year as a Physician Assistant Student Public Health Service officer, LT Riojas is completing her Physician Assistant degree at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) as an OHSU Presidential Fund Scholar and Long-Term Trainee for IHS. After completing her program this upcoming summer, she will return to IHS and serve for the Portland Area Indian Health Services.

Before commissioning in the USPHS Commissioned, LT Riojas was a Clinical Dietitian at an inpatient hospital working in critical care and post-operative settings in Visalia, California, for a 400-bed facility. She graduated from California State University, Fresno, in 2011 as a first-generation college graduate with her undergraduate degree in Food and Nutritional Sciences and completed her Dietetic Internship in 2013 at Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ.

In her own words as one of “America’s Health Responders” LT Riojas said, “being a Public Health Service officer means I am here to serve. I feel a deep connection with the civilians and Public Health Service officers that I serve with and I know we are leaders for our nation. Together as a team we strive to implement change through innovative strategies that include health promotion, prevention, and wellbeing. This is where I belong.”  

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