Veterans Can Bolster our Healthcare System

Ross Dickman
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    For all of America’s resiliency, the pandemic exposed urgent societal changes that call for reform. Among them are the many visible vulnerabilities of our healthcare system. It was only a scant 12 months ago that hospitals and clinics were stretched past their limits, patients struggled to get the care they needed, and the public toiled to receive a COVID-19 test or vaccine. As the virus surged, hospitals in at least 25 states reported staff shortages. Yet on the sidelines watching these unnecessary – and tragic – medical limitations unfold were thousands of experienced former medics and hospital corpsmen, ready to serve their country as they are committed and uniquely trained to do. 

    Since the start of the pandemic, we regularly heard leaders call for an ‘army’ of healthcare workers to fight this public health emergency. Yet what too few realize is that we already have an army right here, and they are ready to go. Thousands of former military medics and hospital corpsmen have hard-won healthcare skills and experience to help America recover from the pandemic. Each of them have already earned their basic medical training, with many having received additional advanced training in the field. 

    At Hire Heroes USA, we’ve helped more than 56,000 U.S. military members, veterans and military spouses find jobs and succeed in the civilian workforce.  We’re driven by the belief that every veteran that is out of work is a lost opportunity for that family, their community, and our country.  Looking across the population of veterans we serve, many are former medics and hospital corpsmen from across all military branches. Many of these former military medical workers want to continue their careers in the civilian healthcare industry, yet struggle to do so.  Our data demonstrates that 50% of the 1,244 veteran medics and corpsmen we served from 2015-2020 want to work in the civilian healthcare industry.  Alarmingly, only half of those motivated individuals land jobs in the medical field.

    In their military careers, many will obtain additional certifications such as Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic, Tactical Paramedic, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, or Pediatric Advanced Life Support to name a few.  Working with our partner, the Call of Duty Endowment, we’ve learned that in the vast majority of states, medics and corpsmen are blocked from the healthcare industry by the regulatory barriers to  state-level accreditation. Many states don’t provide any special allowances for military medic training or inject hurdles in terms of fees, extra training, and additional examinations. This means that men and women who have the skills and experience of saving lives and ensuring the health of hundreds under extreme pressure often must start their training all over again once they return to civilian life. Instead, many choose another career path out of frustration.  And their experience that could be of such value to our country, especially during a pandemic, is squandered. 

    The pandemic exposed many challenges that our country now faces. Our work demonstrates one clear solution: allow veterans to keep serving this country in the ways they are prepared to do so. To strengthen our healthcare system, hire the heroes who are already prepared to do the job. 

    Ross Dickman is the Chief Operating Officer at Hire Heroes USA. If you’re interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.