Air National Guard Physicians are able and willing to deploy to support wartime and peacetime missions, both at home and abroad. For Domestic Support of Civil Authority Operations, all respondents were able provide support for 30 days which covers all such operations. For steady state support operations, civilian employment influences length; those with government/institutional employment can deploy longer without difficulty as compared to physicians in private/group practice. Professional specialty also plays a role; procedural/critical skills start to deteriorate after staffing a flight medicine clinic for 60 days. Some physicians have the ability, support and financial resources to deploy for a 6 month block whereas others are able to provide service for shorter times (60-90 days), but they can collectively cover a 6 month block. Possible recommendation: For a 180 day deployment, offer first to physicians who can cover entire block in or out of their AEF bucket. Offer next to divide block into 90 day units with each physician covering ½. Finally, divide block into 60 day units with priority given to experienced, multiply deployed physicians or those with critical care skills. (Special thanks to Col Brett Fehrle for data acquisition and Col Will Pond for data summary & analysis)
DATA SUMMARY & ANALYSIS:
Statistically valid data was collected from a large sample of more than 200 Air National Guard physicians in over 40 states. (for raw data and graphs, please see 2015 ANG Physician Survey (Deployments) )
Over 70% of the responding physicians were flight surgeons (AFSC 48XX).
One third of respondents had never deployed, but half had deployed 2 or more times, so they are familiar with swap out procedures. 2/3 of ANG respondents have over 10 years of experience ( whereas ¼ of Active Duty flight surgeons have over 10 years experience.)
Of those who had previously deployed, the largest percentage was for 90 days.
All respondents would be able to deploy under Presidential Mobilization Authority with civilian job issues becoming more problematic as the length of deployment increased. 40% would be able to deploy 60 or more days without civilian job issues.
2/3 of respondents would prefer a 45 day deployment best to balance civilian employment with ANG deployment obligation. 1/3 would be able to accommodate a 60+ day deployment. If the deployment were a contingency (wartime) operation, the number increases to 2/3 for 60+ days; this probably reflects greater employer/colleague/family support as well as professional fulfillment in supporting a war time operation and using professional skill sets. In addition, over ½ of respondents have professional skills that deteriorate in a flight medicine/non critical environment within 60 days, in a manner similar to pilots who are out of the cockpit for 2 months.
70% of respondents would find it very difficult to meet a 110 day time away from work but most would be able to deploy for 60 days. If required to deploy for 110 days, 40% would transfer to a non-deployable position, retire or resign.
Actual monthly financial cost to deploy for physicians was related to employment status. Those with government/institutional jobs (1/3) experienced minimal cost. Over half (52%) suffered actual personal cost (not lost income) of over $5,000 per month because those physicians in private practice and/or physician groups must continue to pay overhead expenses in their absence, e.g. . staff salaries, office overhead, liability insurance, utilities, etc.
100% of respondents would deploy for Domestic Support of Civil Authority (DSCA) for 30 days with 1/3 able to support longer deployment. Guardsmen supporting DSCA Operations is a core responsibility of the Guard and such operations are uniformly less than 30 days.
2/3 of respondents are under no military contract or financial incentive. Whereas only 17% of the overall force makes it to the 20 year retirement, over 26% of the physician respondents already have 20+ years of service and are retirement eligible; and another 20% are 3 years or less from retirement eligibility.
With special thanks to Col Brett Fehrle for the data survey and work on the questionnaire.
Col William W. Pond, MD, SFS, MC, INANG