When I came out of the Army, I had been trained as a Medical Laboratory specialist. I had performed what was considered advanced work in the Third Army Regional Medical Laboratory. But, in a civilian setting, I was nothing. Medics who served in Viet Nam and even performed minor surgery were no longer allowed to touch patients because they were unqualified. People who had saved lives or provided needed test results were released from the service, only to be unemployable in their field at the level in which they had been functioning. Medical civilian authorities back then considered us nigh unto untrained.
I thought that the situation had improved recently, and it has. I know that modern Army and Air Force medics at least are recognized as EMT-basic. Mind you, I still consider that an insult since what they do on the field is far beyond what any basic EMT does in the USA. But, that is better than being considered nothing. Recently, I found out that the same is not true of a Navy corpsman. For whatever reason, the Navy does not appear to have gone through the necessary steps to have their corpsmen considered to be basic EMTs. Note: I am willing to be shown wrong on that last statement. Or, to put it in a positive light, the Navy training is focused in a different way than civilian training.
Nevertheless, what is true is that for any of our services, a medic and a corpsman come out and are not able to get jobs to the level of their training and experience. At least the medic can get a job as a basic ambulance attendant, doing far less than he was trained. The corpsman may very well be out in the cold. In the field in which I worked, my training no longer exists. The Army has upgraded the training so that the persons who take the training can be certified with a little more training.
I will mention that there are universities, such as George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences that have courses that will allow corpsmen to upgrade to a certification. For people in my field (but a certification lower), they can also take courses that lead to a technician certification, which would at least allow them to get a civilian job.
But, the bottom line still is that in the medical field, there are many who have helped save lives who cannot get an equivalent civilian job when they leave the Armed Forces. Worse, as a recent fictional TV program pointed out, it would theoretically be possible for such a person to give the full field medical aid of which they are able at a remote accident site only to be arrested for it. While there are Good Samaritan laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, they do not necessarily cover someone who is putatively working outside their skill level, in other words, medics and corpsmen without a civilian certification in a civilian setting.
p align=”justify”>I must admit that the episode brought back memories of my leaving the Army and realizing that I could not legally perform the testing which I had been performing for years. I was sad to find out that, while the situation has improved, it is still not what it should be. Unfortunately, this situation has few supporters for change, and many supporters for keeping the civilian and military certifications separate. This leaves various of our Armed Forces members out in the cold when they return to civilian life.