July 11, 2018

{Guest Post} How to Become a Military Medical Professional

Thank you to the Real Caregivers for sharing this informational post. They showcase caregivers and their journeys through interviews, videos, and articles. 

How to Become a Military Medical Professional: A Step-by-Step Guide

Some people dream of becoming a doctor; others dream of entering the military — and some people dream of both. There are many career options available for those who wish to become a medical professional in any one of the five main branches of the United States military: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. Here, we lay out a step-by-step guide for what it takes to become a military medical professional.

Contact a military recruiter.
There are multiple medical positions, scholarship opportunities and branches in the military. A recruiter will be able to go over all your options and help you figure out the best choices for your situation and interests.

Pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Becoming a medical professional in the military follows a very similar path to that of a civilian doctor — and it starts with college. If you’re currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree, try to pick a science or medical field, such as biology or chemistry, that will make it easier to get into med school. Keep your grades up since medical schools look for students with a high GPA. When you can, seek out medical volunteer opportunities and shadow current practitioners to bolster your application.

Study for and pass the entrance exam.
No matter what specialty you select, you’ll probably have to study for and take an entrance exam to get into your medical graduate school of choice and achieve a high enough score to be admitted to the program. The most well-known exam is the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which is required for med school.

Determine when to enter the military.
You can start your career in the military at various points in your medical career. You can apply as an undergraduate though you must already be accepted to a graduate program at that point. You can also apply during med school or your residency — or even after you’ve gone into practice. The earlier you enter the military, the more years of scholarship money you’ll get and the more years of active duty you’ll have to commit to the military.

Meet the military’s entrance criteria.
Different branches of the military have different admissions requirements, but all applicants need to meet health, character and age requirements in order to be accepted into the military, even if they’re planning a medical career. A security clearance might also be required.

Undergo officer training.
Military physicians don’t undergo the same Basic Training as enlisted service members, but they do have to participate in officer training, which takes anywhere from two to 10 weeks. Officer training helps new recruits learn what’s expected of them and varies from branch to branch of the military.

Figure out your finances.
One of the many reasons people are attracted to careers in the military is the tuition benefits, and the military extends this opportunity to medical professionals as well. For example, the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) offers full tuition for up to four years of school, funding for books and medical equipment, a $2,200-plus monthly stipend and a $20,000 signing bonus. Other scholarship programs are available as well.

Go to graduate school.
Just like civilian medical professionals, you’ll need to attend medical school, nursing school or another certified graduate program. You can apply to a “regular” civilian university or look into the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), a health science university that specifically prepares medical professionals to enter various branches of the military.

Match with your residency.
Prior to residency application, aspiring doctors will do at least one rotation at a military medical facility to see if it could be a good fit for their residency. Military medical students must apply to both the military and the civilian residency selection boards. The military match occurs first, and if students aren’t matched to a military residency or post-graduate program, they will be authorized to go through the civilian process. If you don’t match, you can switch to a military residency in another field or take a one-year internship.

Complete your residency.
If medical students match with a military residency, they will be paid as a captain in the Army and the Air Force or as a lieutenant in the Navy. Time spent in a military residency does not count toward the active duty service commitment but does count toward eventual promotion, pay longevity and retirement. Students who match with a civilian residency will be paid by the civilian facility, but they will remain an officer in the Individual Ready Reserve, and their residency time counts towards promotion and pay longevity.

Choose full time or part time.
Students, residents and licensed physicians can choose between these options. Some doctors are drawn by the perks of a military position — longer vacations, shorter hours, freedom from building a practice or worrying about the business side — and enter one of the branches as a full-time medical profession. Others prefer to work part time, maintaining their own clinical practice while serving as a reserve officer.

Consider a career change.
If you’re currently on active duty, you can still apply to become a military medical student, although you may have to fill out extra applications. For example, currently enlisted active duty members of the Army are eligible to enroll in colleges or master’s programs to become a nurse, physician’s assistant or allied health professional.

Keep your eye on the prize.
Becoming a doctor, nurse or other medical professional is a long, arduous process, and entering the military adds even more steps on top of that. But many find the choice is ultimately very rewarding because being a military medical professional allows you to serve patients and your country at the same time — and the tuition benefits certainly help, too. Follow these steps to start your journey to becoming a military medical professional today.

January 5, 2018

Why College Voters Matter

In the past I have shared about The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) which administers the Federal responsibilities of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), but today I have some additional voting information. Many of our readers could be college students considering going into the military, or military parents who have college age students, or maybe you know some college students who could benefit from knowing this.

The Accredited Schools Online have reached out to me since they are working on an outreach campaign to help students understand their rights, the rules and the regulations of an election. Their team recently published a comprehensive guide to help students navigate this year's midterms and future elections. The guide includes a six-step process on how to vote, advice for students voting away from home, and describes the different types of elections and what to expect on a ballot. The entire guide is available below. Navigating the Election Process for Students and First Time Voters https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/students-and-first-time-voters/

"College students have plenty on their plates, and when election season comes around, figuring out the voting process can seem overwhelming to deal with. Taking the time to get prepped for voting may not seem appealing, but young voters can have a huge impact on the United States political scene. This guide can smooth the process and help college students ensure they are registered and well-informed when it comes time to fill out their ballots."

Why College Voters Matter

Young voters (aged 18-29) make up 21% of the eligible voting population

More information can be found here:

October 17, 2017

{Guest Post} Navigating Post-Military Benefits Like USAA

Thank you to Jennifer Grant for writing two very interesting guests posts for A Military Story. Jennifer has a background in American History and she is a military spouse. She is found often blogging about the great US of A and our service members here: http://blog.americanflags.com/

Navigating Post-Military Benefits Like USAA
Those who have served in the military know that service is not easy, even without tours in combat. Service members are limited in their ability to control their own lives, and their families must follow along with orders as much as the service member.
After finishing your time in the military, your service will follow you throughout life. You will find you have an array of benefits and programs available to you, over and above the programs available through the Veteran’s Administration, VFW posts and GI Bill.

The GI Bill
Some changes were recently made to the GI Bill which may require some navigation, although the changes do not affect the core benefits of the bill.
First, for servicemembers discharged on or after January 1, 2013, the 15-year time limit on using the GI Bill’s benefits is eliminated. Also, reservists mobilized after August 1, 2009 for disasters, emergencies or assisting combatant commands are now eligible. All Purple Heart recipients are now eligible automatically. Veterans who attend schools which close after January 1, 2015 could recover GI Bill funding if no credit was received.
Veterans enrolled in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program will provide funding over the amount of the GI Bill base benefit. The new bill reduces the housing allowance available for those who start receiving GI Bill benefits after January 1, 2018.
The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is the largest provider of veteran’s benefits outside the Federal government. The USAA, founded in 1922, is available to all current and honorably discharged service members, their spouses and children.
The USAA currently has over 11 million members and started as an auto-insurance association. It offers a full line of financial services products.
While USAA has four in-person service centers (near the three service Academies and their San Antonio headquarters), it primarily provides financial services over the phone or online. The USAA’s website is full of information on the products they offer, as well as advice about a wide range of life-affecting concerns.
USAA provides a full range of insurance coverage, from automobile to homeowner’s and renter’s insurance to annuities. In addition, USAA is a full-service bank, offering everything your neighborhood bank branch can provide. It also provides investment and retirement planning, as well as investment management. Health insurance, mortgages and selected shopping discounts also are available.

Navy Federal Credit Union
The Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) offers services similar to those of the USAA. With 7 million members, the NFCU operates several branches around the country. The branches are concentrated around San Diego, Hampton Roads/Norfolk, Washington, D.C. and Jacksonville. Other branches are also open around the country.
NFCU owns a number of ATM machines around the country and has made arrangements with CO-OP network ATMs. Using VISA Plus ATMs may provide you a rebate of ATM fees, depending on the type of account you have with the NFCU.
Other business with the credit union is largely conducted online or by phone. If you are looking to obtain a mortgage, for example, you would go to their website and search for loan officers by state.
NFCU also provides solutions for small businesses, including payment and payroll services. They offer help setting up retirement plans for you and your employees as well.
First Command Financial Services
First Command was founded by an Air Force Colonel concerned about financial planning for service members and their families. Their clients include current and retired military personnel.
One service First Command offers is a complimentary financial plan for active-duty personnel at or over grade E-5. They also focus on coaching service members in insurance, savings and banking.
First Command’s operations are largely online, but they provide access to over 20,000 ATM for debit card use. First Command does not charge a fee for the first 10 monthly transactions and rebates the first $15 per month in ATM fees charged by ATM owners.
The Walt Disney properties have long honored the service by military personnel. Their Armed Services Salute program offers theme park tickets at over half off, and 30% - 40% discounts on rooms at Disney resorts.
The Disney discounts are available to current and retired military members or their spouses. Plus, 100% disabled service members are also eligible. However, children are ineligible.
A participating service member may purchase up to six tickets during an Armed Forces Salute period. Each ticket lasts for 4 or 5 days, and the service member (or spouse) must be one of the ticket holders during each visit.
Each Armed Forces Salute period covers most of a year; there are some blackout periods. The Salute tickets are usually not available around Christmas, and in some years, they are not available around Spring Break. In 2018, the blackout dates are March 25 through April 5, and December 20 through December 31.
Disney also is connected with “Shades of Green,” an Armed Forces Recreation Center located near the rest of the Disney properties in Orlando, FL. Shades of Green is the only AFRC in the continental U.S., and like all AFRCs, it is designed to support military personnel and their families.
Each day one of the Disney theme parks has extended hours, either in the morning or at night, allowing guests at Shades of Green to have extra time at the parks. Shuttles between Shades of Green and the park are available.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Hiring Our Heroes” program focuses on veterans and spouses, and works with employers to connect with servicemembers. Veterans can use the program’s Resume Engine to craft a top-notch resume, as well as get expert career advice.
The program also has a corporate fellowship program and provides many other resources. Spouses may be able to take part in their hiring events and fellowship program as well.