Flight Surgeons Critical To Mission Readiness

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- There are a special group of doctors here at the 117th Air Refueling Wing Medical Group who ensures the aviators are medically ready to perform their duties.

The doctors, known as flight surgeons, are specially qualified in aerospace medicine. 

"Aerospace medicine concerns the determination and maintenance of the health, safety, and performance of persons involved in air and space travel." * 

It normally takes a doctor approximately six months to one year to complete their initial training after joining the Air National Guard, according to Master Sgt. Tammie Atchison, a health system specialist at the 117 MDG. 

"These doctors are not going off to be re-trained on how to be doctors," said Atchison. "A lot of this training is focused on airplane physiology and how to treat patients in a military aircraft environment."

Lt. Col. Edward Jones joined more than 14 years ago. He says being a flight surgeon gives doctors the chance to learn aerospace medicine and to be a qualified aircrew member. 

Maj. Leland Perry is an anesthesiologist in Athens, Georgia. He started his military career in the Air Force on active duty and later joined the Air National Guard. 

"I joined the 117 ARW because I missed the camaraderie of being in the military," said Perry. 

As members of the Alabama Air National Guard Jones and Perry can continue to be full-time physicians in the civilian world and serve their country as flight surgeons throughout the world. 


*http://www.asma.org/about-asma/overview