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In 1964, the idea for a comprehensive Navy occupational health program originated at what was then the Navy's Bureau of Weapons. The Bureau recognized the need for an occupational health program, which would encompass all Fleet Readiness and Training Ordnance field activities. It directed the Commanding Officer, Naval Ammunition Depot (NAD), Crane, Indiana to address this need by broadening that command's occupational health function. The expanded mission, which came under the supervision of the Senior Medical Officer (SMO) at NAD Crane, included assistance to all naval ammunition depots and naval stations in coordinating occupational health programs. Under the SMO's supervision, the program's first industrial hygiene survey was done.
In May 1967, the Bureau of Weapons formalized the program function it had assigned to NAD Crane with the establishment of the Naval Ordnance Systems Command Environmental Health Center, a division of NAD Crane Medical Department. In June 1970, the Center was disestablished as an NAD Crane program. And on July 1, it became a Headquarters Detachment (HQ DET) of the Naval Ordnance Systems Command (NAVORD), Cincinnati, Ohio. In October of that year, The HQ DET became known as the Naval Ordnance Environmental Health Center (NOECH), NAVORD.
A year later, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), the Naval Material Command (NAVMAT), and NAVORD signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) which brought NOEHC under the aegis of BUMED, renamed the “Navy Industrial Environmental Health Center (NIEHC). They continued to provide industrial environmental health services primarily to BUMED and NAVORD. And in July 1974, the Center became the "Navy Environmental Health Center" (NEHC), an Echelon 3 shore activity under the command and support of BUMED.
A move by the Center to Norfolk, Virginia was initiated in the fall of 1978. Relocation was undertaken in response to an increase in requests for fleet support and further expansion of the command's occupational health mission. The expanded role included responsibility for the Navy Occupational Safety and Health Inspection Program (NOSHIP), analytical lab services, radiation health, hazardous materials identification, asbestos hazard control, preventive medicine, epidemiology, and hearing conservation. (The Hearing Conservation Division of the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, Pensacola, Florida became NEHC's Hearing Conservation Branch in November 1978.) The move was completed when the Hearing Conservation Branch and NEHC were consolidated in Norfolk in July 1979.
In 1981, NEHC's mission was further expanded to coordinate and provide centralized support and occupational health, environmental health, and preventive medicine services to medical activities ashore and afloat. Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Units (NEPMU) and Navy Disease Vector Ecology and Control Centers (DVECC) were placed under NEHC as Echelon 4 commands. These activities included: NEPMU 2, Norfolk, Virginia; NEPMU 5, San Diego, California; NEPMU 6, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; NEPMU 7, Naples Italy; DVECC, Jacksonville, Florida; and DVECC, Alameda California. BUMED reorganized in 1982 to establish the Naval Medical Command (NAVMEDCOM), with NEHC being one of its 15 subordinate Echelon 3 commands. In 1983, NEHC functions were once again expanded to include coordination and review of all occupational health and preventive medicine programs under the direction and management of NAVMEDCOM. NEHC established many programs, which continued to have a direct impact on day-to-day work of Navy personnel. For example, 1986, it established the Navy Preventive Medicine Information System (NAPMIS), a computerized information system designed to support the Fleet and Fleet Marine Force with consistently updated preventive medicine and vector-borne disease profiles of countries of military importance. In 1987, NEHC also assumed its role as Project Manager for Navy Occupational Health Information Management System (NOHIMS) site implementations.
In 1989, NEHC moved into ample, modern spaces, specifically designed to accommodate the command's needs in meeting a vastly expanded mission. The much needed move consolidated all NEHC departments and staff, which had operated out of three separate, temporary facilities for the past ten years at Norfolk Commerce Park, 2510 Walmer Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia.
In October 1990, NEHC assumed the additional responsibility for the management of the Navy Drug Screening Laboratories. This brought the total number of field activities under the command's guidance up to ten. In 1995, the command was restructured to provide better customer service. Directorates for newly established programs in Health Promotion and Chemical Biological Radiological Environmental (CBRE) Warfare were established.
In 1999, NEHC prepared for its relocation to the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Compound, Building 215. Planning of this move actually began in the early 1980's when it was decided that Navy Medicine could better serve the Fleet through the availability of all Navy Medical and Preventive Medicine Commands in one central location. On February 11, 2002 the Navy Environmental Health Center relocated to the Navy Medical Center Portsmouth Compound occupying the 10th and 11th floors of Building 215.
NEHC's Environmental Preventive Medicine Units took on a major role at the start of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. Their Forward Deployable Preventive Medicine Units began an ongoing deployment rotation in support of those operations as well as supporting numerous humanitarian events around the globe. In order to better meet the demands of an ever-increasing operational tempo, the Navy Disease Vector Ecology Control Center (NDVECC), Bangor, Washington was disestablished on 30 September 2005 and assets redistributed among the various NEPMUs and the other NDVECC located in Jacksonville, FL.
In October 2006, subsequent to realignment within Navy Medicine, NEHC was designated an Echelon 4 Command under the Navy Medicine Support Command, Jacksonville FL. Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Unit (NEPMU) Seven, Sigonella Italy was disestablished to reduce the Navy’s European footprint. NEPMUs Two, Five and Six were realigned under Naval Medical Centers Portsmouth and San Diego. During this same time frame, the Navy Disease Vector and Ecology Control Center, Jacksonville was designated a center of excellence for Navy entomology and re-named the Navy Entomology Center of Excellence.
In November 2007, NEHC was re-named the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) in keeping with its ever-changing and growing mission to provide leadership and expertise to ensure mission readiness through disease prevention and health promotion in support of the National Military Strategy. In 2010, NMCPHC regained cognizance over the Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Units and the Navy Bloodborne Infection Management Center in Bethesda, MD.