2012 Issues   /   September 2012

Bill Seeks to Remove Barriers Keeping Military Medics from Getting Civilian Jobs

USM By U.S. Medicine
September 6, 2012

By Sandra Basu

WASHINGTON — While military medics have been hailed for their bravery and lifesaving skills on the battlefield, many are out of work once they leave the military.

Nearly 100,000 Army veterans applied for unemployment in FY 2011, and nearly 3,000 of those were Army medics, said OIF veteran and Victory Media senior vice president Daniel Nichols in a House subcommittee hearing held over the summer.

“They were the third-largest military occupational specialty to do so,” he said, citing Unemployment Compensation FY 2011 data. “There is a problem, and we have not yet solved it.”

One barrier to employment, according to Nichols and other advocates, is that state licensing requirements often require military medics to redo their medical training in order to receive the certification necessary to be hired for a civilian EMS job.

Ben Chlapek, a recently retired Army veteran who spoke to the committee on behalf of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, said that medics “receive some of the best training in the world and are some of the best there are at trauma care and other facets of medical care.”


U.S. soldiers serving with 1st Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and C Company, 307th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division treat a wounded Afghan National Police officer on Forward Operating Base Warrior, Ghazni province, Afghanistan, July 1, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrew Claire Bake.

Despite their advanced medical training, however, Navy independent duty corpsmen, Navy SEAL medics, Army special forces medics and Air Force special operations pararescue medics are often required to go through a yearlong paramedic class and several hundred clinical hours before they can take the test for licensure in the civilian sector, he explained. In reality, the former medics should be ready to take the certification test with a one-week refresher training, he said.

“Most of these medics can put external fixation devices on mangled limbs to restore an anatomical structure. … They can put in chest tubes. They routinely perform surgical procedures, and some are even trained in vascular surgery so we can tie vessels back together and restore circulation in the field in austere environments, when we have to maintain a patient for more than 72 hours,” Chlapek said. “These are procedures that are normally reserved for emergency rooms, operating rooms and trauma suites.”

According to how long since their licenses expired, unlicensed basic combat medics, Navy corpsmen or Air Force medics often are not permitted to take the EMT licensure test without first taking a full EMT course, which Chlapek deemed unnecessary.  

“[They] have all of the training they need to challenge the test and should be allowed to do so,” he said in written testimony. “If they are rusty or need a review in a specific area, a weekend of refresher is plenty to prepare them for the test.”

Some states have made adjustments to their credentialing processes for military medics, but it varies from state to state, he said.


Related Articles

Military Services Develop Remote Monitoring to Improve Battlefield Medicine

What if battlefield medics could monitor multiple injured servicemembers in the field thought a new electronic monitoring tool?

High Rate of Pectoralis Tears Among Deployed Servicemembers Lifting Weights

Lifting weights is one way servicemembers keep in peak physical condition during deployment.


U.S. Medicine Recommends


More From department of defense dod

Department of Defense (DoD)

High Rate of Pectoralis Tears Among Deployed Servicemembers Lifting Weights

Lifting weights is one way servicemembers keep in peak physical condition during deployment.

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD Study Finds That Type 2 Diabetes Increases Breast Cancer Mortality

Having Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM-2) increases mortality risk in breast cancer patients, regardless of whether diabetes was diagnosed before or after breast cancer, according to a recent study.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Now Hear This: Otolaryngologist Leads Effort to Prevent Auditory Issues

Among those who are exposed to combat, it’s the weapons fire that does it. In the Navy, it’s the noise levels in engine rooms and on the decks of carriers.

Department of Defense (DoD)

GAO: ‘Gaps’ in MHS Physician Specialties Could Affect Wartime Readiness

WASHINGTON — The military services need to develop “targeted and coordinated strategies” to alleviate military physician gaps, a recent report recommended.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Vows to Meet Deadline for Revamp of Veteran Claims Appeal Process

WASHINGTON—VA has told legislators that the agency is on track with a new law that will give veterans more options to have their claims appeals reviewed.

Facebook Comment

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up