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US Army asks retired soldiers in medical fields back to fight coronavirus

An Army medic sorts through blood samples for prescreening during a Walking Blood Bank training program at Camp Lejeune, N.C., June 21, 2017. (Lance Cpl. Gloria Lepko/U.S. Marine Corps)
March 27, 2020

The U.S. Army is calling on its retired soldiers with medical training to consider rejoining and help fight the coronavirus this week.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which processes pay for military retirees, sent a message asking for soldiers to consider joining back up in the coronavirus effort. A copy of the message obtained by Military.com shows it was signed by Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, deputy chief of staff for U.S. Army Personnel.

The message states the Army is trying to determine the interest of retired officers, noncommissioned officers and junior enlisted soldiers in rejoining to assist in the coronavirus effort.

“These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions and that’s why we’re turning to you — trusted professionals capable of operating under constantly changing conditions,” the message reads. “When the Nation called — you answered, and now, that call may come again.”

According to Military.com, it wasn’t clear from the letter if those soldiers being asked to rejoin would return to active service or a more limited capacity.

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The message was put out to soldiers trained in various medical specialties, such as: medics, respiratory specialists, ER nurses, nurse practitioners, critical care nurses, nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologists and critical care officers.

“We need to hear from you STAT!” the message said.

Soldiers without those various medical specialties were told they could still reach out and communicate their interest to help the Army in whatever capacity they may be able.

The message did come with the request that personnel currently working at a civilian hospital or medical facility notify the Army, as they do not want to pull from those already assisting the public health effort against coronavirus.

Those willing to return to work with the Army were advised to contact Human Resources Command, Reserve Personnel Management Directorate at Fort Knox, Ky. to provide their contact information and military occupational specialty.

Other efforts have been made within the military to free up medical capacity. This week, the Pentagon advised military medical and dental facilities to postpone most of their scheduled elective surgeries and dental procedures for 60 days to shift medical resources to fighting coronavirus.

The U.S. Selective Service System also has a still unused roster of medically qualified personnel, known as the  Health Care Personnel Delivery System or “doctor draft.” The “doctor draft” list is intended for use only in wartime.

The number of coronavirus cases among U.S. military personnel has grown and, as of Wednesday, had risen to 227 cases among U.S. troops and 435 total among various Defense Department civilians and related personnel.