Jaime Herrera Beutler Introduces Legislation to Ensure Sufficient Medical Care for Troops

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler introduced a bill to help ensure U.S. armed service members’ medical needs are met by allowing Reserve Medical Officers to continue serving past retirement age if the military has a need for more surgeons, medical specialists and doctors.

Currently, Reserve Medical Officers are required by law to retire from service at age 68. Herrera Beutler’s bill, the Reserve Medical Officer Parity Act, gives military department secretaries authority to extend a Reserve officer’s service, offering the same extension afforded officers in the regular commissioned military.

Dr. Mike Kelly, a surgeon from Vancouver who served in the Reserves, first brought this disparity to Herrera Beutler’s attention.

“I served as a surgeon in the Reserves beginning after 9-11 with multiple overseas deployments and continued actively in my local hospital unit. When I applied to extend my service after the retirement age, I was told that the law governing military matters prevented me from continuing in service to the country, the Army and our unit. Congresswoman Herrera Beutler’s bill is important for those in the Reserves who are capable and want to continue serving their country,” Kelly said.

“Congress should give the military the tools it needs to ensure troop readiness, and an important part of that is providing our service members with quality medical care in a timely manner while serving. When the military has a need for more doctors, medical specialists and surgeons, they should be able to extend Reserve Medical Officers’ service to help meet that need,” Herrera Beutler said.

Herrera Beutler’s bill would allow the Secretaries of each of the military departments to extend a Reserve Medical Officer’s service beyond age 68 if the Secretary determines a need, bringing the Reserves in congruence with regular military laws. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis and the length of the deferment will be determined as appropriate by the Secretary.

Reserve Medical officers in the U.S. Army contribute half of the Army’s total medical officers.