Jon E. Dougherty is a Missouri-based political science major, author, writer and columnist. Follow him on Twitter.
The Pentagon will draft experienced medical personnel, including medics, nurses and physicians, in the event of a national emergency.
Navy corpsmen carry “wounded” troops during an exercise at Camp Pendleton, Calif. (WND Photo/Jon Dougherty)
The “health care personnel delivery system” is being readied by the Department of Defense, according to a report published by the Newhouse News Service, to cope with military casualties from a large-scale biological or chemical attack. The plan was authorized by Congress in 1987 to deal with large-scale casualties that outstripped the active-duty military’s ability to handle them.
The news service also reported the Pentagon is considering other “special skills” drafts, to include military linguists, computer experts or engineers, that could arise from other immediate needs.
“We’re going to elevate that kind of draft to be a priority,” Lewis Brodsky, acting director of the Selective Service System, told Newhouse News Service.
The plan calls for the president to issue a proclamation ordering 13.5 million health-care professionals to register for a draft within 13 days. Following the proclamation, Congress would quickly pass legislation authorizing the draft of health-care workers aged 20-44, and for the first time in U.S. history, the draft would include women.
The Pentagon would then inform the Selective Service System of the number of personnel needed for each of the 62 medical specialties. The news service said a separate draft lottery would be held for each specialty.
The Defense Department believes it could draft up to 80,000 personnel – surgeons, dentists, nurses, X-ray personnel, paramedics, etc. – within several months of the draft through the Military Entrance Processing Command.
The news service said the plan, however, isn’t well-known among the medical community.
“If you were to ask 10 doctors, maybe one might have heard something about it,” Dr. Marybeth McCall, chief medical officer at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y., and an Air Force veteran, told the news service.
According to the Selective Service website, the medical draft would “provide a fair and equitable draft of doctors, nurses, medical technicians and those with certain other health-care skills if, in some future emergency, the military’s existing medical capability proved insufficient and there is a shortage of volunteers.”
It would “draft a very small percentage of America’s health-care providers into military service. Impact on the availability of civilian health care would be minimal.”
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which created the country’s first peacetime draft and formally established the Selective Service System as an independent federal agency.
“From 1948 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the armed forces which could not be filled through voluntary means,” says information posted on the Selective Service website.
The draft ended in 1973, near the close of the Vietnam War, and reverted to an all-volunteer force. Registration for the draft was suspended in 1975 but resumed again during the waning days of President Jimmy Carter’s administration in 1980, in response to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
Men who reach their 18th birthday are required by law to register for the draft. Newhouse News said Selective Service maintains 2,000 active draft boards around the country that would handle appeals for exemptions, deferments and postponements.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the U.S. was not considering a military draft to fill combat ranks even after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“No heightened measures have been undertaken to bring the nation closer to the re-establishment of conscription” following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., Selective Service said in a statement issued in November 2001.