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One of the largest sectors for military employment (for civilians) is in the medical sector. The United States military maintains an enormous network of hospitals that serve the needs of military personnel and employees. In addition to working directly for one of the branches of the United States military, there are also thousands of positions that trained medical workers can take at with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which maintains the Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital system. No matter what kind of medical job you are qualified to perform, you can be assured that there are probably job opportunities available to you within the United States military, or on its periphery.
The United States military has been employing civilians since the American Revolutionary War. The Continental Army depended upon civilians for a huge number of jobs, including:
- medical care
- supply chain management
- and much more.
In fact, this is one of the reasons that the Continental Army managed to eventually overpower and defeat the British Redcoats and their various hired mercenaries, who could not depend upon support from the civilian population. Civilian medical care was also important in helping ensure that the United States suffered less military mortality rates than other aggressors during the American Revolutionary War.
The military is extremely interested in employing civilians trained to work in medicine for a variety of reasons. First, the most important factor that makes hiring civilians a lucrative proposition for the United States military is the fact that there is a very large skills gap between the training that enlisted or commissioned military personnel must receive, and the training that medical personnel need to receive. In most cases, it makes very little sense to train a surgeon or x-ray technologist to fire a weapon accurately, maintain their calm on the battlefield, or to go through the other sorts of training that military personnel usually receive on a regular basis. As a result, hiring civilian medical personnel is far cheaper than using enlisted or commissioned personnel to work in military clinics and hospitals. For every civilian that is hired, the United States Department of Defense saves many thousands of dollars invested in the training that uniformed military personnel would otherwise receive if a civilian were not hired. This means that money can be allocated to providing civilian personnel with better ongoing training, and that military personnel can receive better quality of care.
Additionally, the existing infrastructure that is in place to train civilian medical personnel ensures that the United States military must spend less money on training costs. Hence, rather than operating colleges and training centers (and the United States military does for most combat and other military-related operations), the United States military can depend on civilians to train in the civilian sector before seeking employment by the military. Hence, the military spends far less than it otherwise would on the expense of training medical personnel (though they certainly still provide some training). Plus, hiring civilians is also cheaper because the military does not need to provide civilian medical employees with things like guns, which cost a significant amount of money. Plus, hiring civilians means that military hospitals can hire employees with a larger variety of skillsets than the military could ever hope to train on their own. I.e, it makes very little sense for the Army to invest in a comprehensive program for training gastroenterologists – especially if such programs already exist at civilian medical schools located around the nation.
Civilian medical jobs within the United States military are largely located within the United States, with some civilian jobs available on large United States military bases that are located around the world. Outside the United States, most civilian military medical personnel are located in Germany, with others located in Japan, Guam, the Philippines, South Korea, and Qatar. Civilian medical employees within the military have sometimes been deployed to major bases in areas like Afghanistan or Iraq, where they are generally quite safe. They are rarely, if ever, deployed to less secure temporary locations ‘in the field’, unless they are contractors working for a third party security services or defense contracting company. Civilian medical personnel will generally carry out the same kinds of tasks that they would carry out in the civilian sector, with rare exceptions. Doctors, nurses, and technicians will usually work in clinics, or more commonly, in hospitals. Here, they will serve as active military personnel, their spouses, and their immediate families.
“hiring civilian medical personnel is far cheaper than using enlisted or commissioned personnel to work in military clinics and hospitals”
In addition to working directly within the military, there are also many related medical jobs that are available in the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital and clinic network: the Veterans Health Administration, which operates hospitals and clinics throughout the United States. This network of hospitals does not serve the needs of currently enlisted medical personnel. Instead, it provides healthcare for veterans, as a portion of their benefits after they are discharged from the United States military branch in which they served. These hospitals and clinics use exclusively civilian personnel in their operations, and given that their clientele consists of veterans entirely, the patients are also all civilians. However, these hospitals are unlike most civilian hospitals, given that they serve a clientele with a distinct culture created by a set of shared experiences in the military. Individuals that frequent Veterans Health Administration (VA) hospitals also tend to have a unique set of healthcare challenges, including injuries and illnesses, that are not often seen in the civilian sector.
Additionally, there are a growing number of individuals that are employed by both branches of the United States military, and the Veterans Health Administration, to manage the care of individuals that have chronic conditions or other health concerns that require long term care. These case managers and counselors help increase the efficiency of the military and VA healthcare systems by ensuring that logistical issues, as well as information sharing happen in an optimal way, leading to a managed care treatment plan that results in lower costs for the US government, and more successful outcomes for patients.