Civilian Draft of Health Care Workers Not Required, Pentagon Says
A senior Pentagon official on Wednesday said that no war or other national emergency would "overwhelm the military's medical care system" and require the United States to draft civilian physicians, nurses and other health care workers, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 10/21). A New York Times article published on Tuesday reported that the Selective Service, the federal agency that plans and conducts the U.S. draft, this summer issued a confidential report to update a contingency plan for a draft of civilian health care workers.
A 1987 law required the development of such a plan. Under the updated plan, about 3.4 million male and female health care workers ages 18 to 44 would have to register with the Selective Service. Among those registered, the Selective Service would select 36,000 individuals who specialize in 62 different areas of health care to report to the Department of Defense "if and when a special skills draft were activated," according to Richard Flahavan, a spokesperson for the Selective Service (California Healthline, 10/19).
However, William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, on Wednesday said that the Pentagon medical system and associated private health care networks "would perform very effectively in the event of a national catastrophic event, even a large one." Winkenwerder added, "We have incredible capacity, so we don't see the need for any call-up of additional medical personnel" (AP/New York Times, 10/21).