“Greg,” (a pseudonym) who was set to commission as a First Lieutenant and just finished the Physician’s Assistant Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, was not allowed to graduate with the rest of his class and won’t be commissioning either because he hasn’t received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Greg submitted a religious accommodation (RA) in September of 2021, and like tens of thousands of other soldiers and servicemembers, he still hasn’t received a response. Despite the fact that he finished all required exams and presentations necessary to graduate, he was not given his diploma or his Masters Degree in Physician Assistant Studies.
The military has a PA program called IPAP, which stands for Interservice Physician Assistant Program, through the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Due to an agreement between the school and the military, students are not allowed to graduate if they don’t meet the commissioning requirements which now consist of taking the COVID vaccine as of February 2022. Greg isn’t even allowed to sit for the PANCE, which is the certifying exam for a Physician Assistant
Greg joined the Army in 2011 and served in 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment until he started the medical program in April of 2020. Greg deployed eight times during his nine years on active duty with the special operations unit; five to Aghanistan and three to Syria. He received a purple heart in 2017 after he was hit by an ISIS drone during the push into Raqqah, Syria.
Despite the DOD’s inability to recruit and retain enough doctors and medical personnel, they’re continuing to stand firm on their mandate. The next time they petition Congress for more money and say they’re struggling to recruit critical skilled personnel, remember this. They’re hemorrhaging from a self inflicted wound, and this is a crisis of their own making.