Army’s call of duty to former healthcare specialists is an ask, not an order, officials say

Email was sent directly to retired doctors, nurses, and medics

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Military medical professionals
Military medical professionals take graduation oath, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 2019
(The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)
Last Updated:
March 26, 2020 - 4:19pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

An appeal by the Army asking retired military healthcare specialists to return to active duty is a request for volunteers, and not an order, the Army said today.

The appeal is meant “for future planning purposes only, and is completely voluntary,” an Army spokesperson told Just the News.

On Wednesday, an Army official sent an email directly to retired health care specialists, asking them to volunteer for active duty to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. The Pentagon has not announced that the email was sent, but several recipients sent copies to Just the News.

“These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions and that's why we're turning to you — trusted professionals capable of operating under constantly changing conditions,” wrote Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, deputy chief of staff for Human Resources Command. “When the Nation called — you answered, and now, that call may come again.”

Seamands wrote that he was gauging the interest of retired officers and enlisted personnel whose expertise could apply to fighting the pandemic. The service specifically needs pulmonary disease specialists, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, critical care nurses, nurse practitioners, emergency room nurses, respiratory specialists, and medics, Seamands wrote.

“If interested and you remain qualified … we need to hear from you STAT!” Seamands wrote.

Typically when retired military personnel return to active duty, the tour lasts 365 days, according to information from Human Resources Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Depending on the situation, some tours can be 730 days or more.

A Fort Knox spokesman did not know how long a medical call would last. And, Seamands wrote, the request is not meant to pull people away from medical work within their communities.

“If you are working in a civilian hospital or medical facility, please let us know,” Seamands wrote. “We do not want to detract from the current care and treatment you are providing to the nation.”

The appeal comes amid Army efforts to contain the virus.

Much of the efforts are ventures into the unknown, the Army’s top doctor said today at the Pentagon.

“We’re hoping this is seasonal,” said Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the Surgeon General of the Army. But, he added, “This is new territory.”

Non-medical workers also are welcome. “While this is targeted at medical specialties, if you are interested in re-joining the team and were in a different specialty, let us know your interest,” Seamands wrote.

He asked that interested people contact Human Resources Command, Reserve Personnel Management Directorate at: usarmy.knox.hrc.mbx.rpmd-ord-hq@mail.mil