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  • Wanting to branch aviation.

    Hello all.

    I am new to this forum and hope to gain lots of useful advice in the next few months. I am currently in Phase 2 of Traditional OCS (PA). I have just finished Phase 1 at CFMR in MD and my first Phase 2 drill is in September. I have many questions, and I have searched the website for answers, and I will try to only ask questions to which I am unable to find answers for.

    I am currently branched medical service corps; However I am thinking about switching to something a little more exciting like aviation. I would really cherish the opportunity to become a pilot, but my eyes require PRK or LASIK in order to meet the physical requirements. I realize that I have plenty of time to get my branched changed between now and commissioning, but I would like to know when would be a good time to get my eyes fixed? I believe I would have to dis-enroll from phase 2 or 3, or maybe even sit on my commission in order to get that 2 month evaluation period between the surgery and physical. There are plenty of aviation slots opening up, it's just a matter of me getting physically qualified in order to secure a slot. I would also like to know if anyone has had any experience from my point of view? Would I be able to have a civilian doctor perform the surgery or do I have to get on that long military waiting list? Money is not an issue and I don't care if I have to pay for the surgery. BTW I am 24 so as a last resort I am willing to stick with my branch and possibly go WO in 3 years or so if that is another viable alternative?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

    Originally posted by novak23z28 View Post
    Hello all.

    I am new to this forum and hope to gain lots of useful advice in the next few months. I am currently in Phase 2 of Traditional OCS (PA). I have just finished Phase 1 at CFMR in MD and my first Phase 2 drill is in September. I have many questions, and I have searched the website for answers, and I will try to only ask questions to which I am unable to find answers for.

    I am currently branched medical service corps; However I am thinking about switching to something a little more exciting like aviation. I would really cherish the opportunity to become a pilot, but my eyes require PRK or LASIK in order to meet the physical requirements. I realize that I have plenty of time to get my branched changed between now and commissioning, but I would like to know when would be a good time to get my eyes fixed? I believe I would have to dis-enroll from phase 2 or 3, or maybe even sit on my commission in order to get that 2 month evaluation period between the surgery and physical. There are plenty of aviation slots opening up, it's just a matter of me getting physically qualified in order to secure a slot. I would also like to know if anyone has had any experience from my point of view? Would I be able to have a civilian doctor perform the surgery or do I have to get on that long military waiting list? Money is not an issue and I don't care if I have to pay for the surgery. BTW I am 24 so as a last resort I am willing to stick with my branch and possibly go WO in 3 years or so if that is another viable alternative?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Medical Service Corps Officers can also be pilots. A branch transfer may not be neccessary if your state has meddavac pilots.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

      You would need to get the surgery yourself at your own expense. You would still need a waiver, and a waiting period after the surgery of up to a year. Let your eye doctor look at the aviation vision standards, because depending on your particular eye problems, Laser surgery still might not get you to meet standards.

      Your plan is not unreasonable, although it's not a casual procedure. You should works with your State's SAAO and OSM on this.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

        I was wondering about how that all worked, because I was interested in getting PRK or LASIK in the future. I was under the impression that PRK is the only accepted surgery for the military? And does it have negative effects on regular Guard duty?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

          ParalegalNCO1- SSG, Thank you for telling me about the option of becoming a meddavac pilot. I already spoke to a few of my colleagues and they also told me that is an option. Here in PA we have our share of aviation units including meddavac. I plan on speaking with my OSM but I would like to become somewhat educated on what questions to even ask. LTC Ritchie, When do you think would be a good time in my OCS/ BOLC phases to take time off for the surgery sir?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

            Originally posted by novak23z28 View Post
            When do you think would be a good time in my OCS/ BOLC phases to take time off for the surgery sir?
            ideally, you'd want to do the surgery as soon as possible. I don't know the current policy, but you may need to wait up to a year for the surgery even to apply for a waiver for aviation (since your eyes can still change after the surgery).

            You must remember that you could get the surgery and still not meet Aviation standards, or meet standards and not get selected.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

              what makes your eyes out of standard? what were your cyclo results? I just got a waiver for my eyes...took 2 days to get it through. Unbelievable! Can't believe it went that fast.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

                Originally posted by matthew.ritchie View Post
                ideally, you'd want to do the surgery as soon as possible. I don't know the current policy, but you may need to wait up to a year for the surgery even to apply for a waiver for aviation (since your eyes can still change after the surgery).

                You must remember that you could get the surgery and still not meet Aviation standards, or meet standards and not get selected.
                Sir, here is the surgery fact sheet that I found online. I am curious though as to whether or not I need to have all this done before securing a flight slot, or if there is a way I can secure a slot provisionally and get my eyes done in the period between Phase 3 and BOLC? I am positive I meed the pre surgery standards also.

                REFRACTIVE SURGERY FACT SHEET FOR FLIGHT SCHOOL APPLICANTS
                What: LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis), LASEK (Laser Subepithelial Keratomileusis), and PRK(Photo Refractive Keratectomy) are now aeromedically acceptable provided the post-surgical outcome meets standards IAW the current Corneal Refractive Surgery APL, revised December 2005. It is important for all applicants to do research on the Internet, or elsewhere, about the differences between the types of surgeries. The US Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory (USAARL) study was initiated in February 2001 and was closed to new applicants as of 1 October 2004. A decision was recently made (8 Dec 2005) by the OTSG (Office of the Surgeon General) to allow LASIK to be accepted along with both LASEK and PRK.
                Who: The policy applies to individuals applying for flight training. Active duty, Reserve, National Guard, ROTC, Academy cadets, OCS candidates, and civilians are all eligible to submit a flight physical with a history of refractive surgery. You will need to coordinate with your eye surgeon and/or eye clinic to complete the visual exam forms needed for your waiver request (see “Release of Medical Information” form). You will need to provide this to your flight surgeon to complete the Class 1 flight physical. All must be reviewed and commented prior to submission to the US Army Aeromedical Activity (AAMA) at Fort Rucker for review. Having a qualified physical does NOT guarantee a flight school slot; it only verifies your medical eligibility to apply for flight school given the presence of a refractive surgery procedure. You still need to work through the standard channels to apply to flight school with your recruiter and/or the Aviation branch.
                How, When and Where: This section describes the steps you will need to accomplish in order to
                receive a qualified flight physical given a history of LASIK, LASEK or PRK surgery. 1) Complete the Class 1 flight physical—nothing happens without its completion. 2) Include results of all of the required post-operative tests on Block #73 (remarks) of the DD2808—these are post-surgical cycloplegic refraction, 3 visual acuities and manifests, slit lamp examination demonstrating healing without complication, scarring, or adverse haze, color corneal topography, and low contrast sensitivity visual testing. 3) Submit the physical to AAMA. AAMA will review the entire Class 1 Flight Physical and qualify it if all of the criteria listed below are met along with the rest of the standards. If not meeting all of the post-surgical criteria, the flight surgeon shall submit the physical with an Aeromedical Summary requested an Exception to Policy (see below). Your medical qualification is provided to the board or agency working your flight school application, and you are eligible to compete for the slot. A flow diagram is provided to help you work through the process.
                Waiver/Exception to Policy: A waiver or exception to policy is required for applicants failing to meet published standards as outlined in AR 40-501, the Aeromedical Policy Letters, or the Aeromedical Technical Bulletin—this is no different for corneal refractive surgery. Similar to any other medical issue, if not meeting the post-surgical standards, applicants must have their flight surgeon request an exception to policy (ETP), submitted in the form of an Aeromedical Summary. ETPs are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and require longer processing time for review. Not all requests for flight school applicants are granted.
                Refractive Surgery Flowchart:
                Have you had refractive surgery
                (LASIK, LASEK or PRK only)?
                Any other form of
                surgery does not
                qualify (RK, Intacs,
                implants, etc) see FAQ
                section
                Yes No
                Consult with at least 2 eye surgeons
                to see if you might be a candidate
                for surgery. If military, you will
                need your Commander’s
                permission.
                Are you within the pre-surgery
                limits of the program? -6.00
                diopters of myopia +4.00 diopters
                of hyperopia 3.00 diopters of
                astigmatism (Verify with your eye
                doctor, if unsure)
                Yes No, see FAQ section
                Provide your eye surgeon/doctor with the Release of
                Medical Information Form. Have all the information Right after surgery
                about your surgery and all post-surgical exams sent to to at least 3 months
                your local flight surgeon (use the worksheets below)
                Complete Class 1 flight physical and have your flight No sooner than 3
                surgeon submit all to USAAMA. months post-surgery
                USAAMA reviews for disposition. Days for normal
                cases to weeks for
                ETP requests
                Points of Contact:
                USAAMA – 334-255-7430 http://usasam.amedd.army.mil/_aama/index.htm
                Recruiting Command www.usarec.army.mil/hq/warrant/warrant.htm
                Warrant Officer Flight Training Program (civilians, NG or Res) – 502-626-0467/1554
                Active duty (Army, AF, Navy, Marine or Coast Guard) – 502-626-0458
                Army Branch Officer applying to aviation needing a branch transfer –
                https://www.perscomonline.army.mil/o...0Transfers.htm
                Aviation Proponency – http://www-rucker.army.mil/ap/default.htm
                or 334-255-3999/2359
                1. Questions about surgery and the eye information
                a. If I had a surgery other than PRK, LASEK or LASIK, can I still get an exception to policy? No, radial keratotomy (RK), intrastromal corneal rings (Intacs) or any other type of refractive surgery have not been aeromedically approved.
                b. If I have NOT had refractive surgery yet, what do I do? Follow the steps in the flowchart. You should consult at least 2 eye surgeons before deciding to get surgery. It is also important to do individual research as to the pros and cons of each type of surgery.
                c. How can I verify if I meet the limits of AR 40-501? Consult with your eye doctor or flight surgeon. He/she will review your current eyeglass or contact lens prescription (if you have not had surgery) or records of your eyeglass or contact lens prescription before surgery (if you have already had surgery). Provide your eye doctor with the limits listed in the flowchart to help them in the review (-6.00 diopters myopia, +4.00 diopters hyperopia, or 3.00 diopters astigmatism).
                d. My refraction is outside the limits of AR 40-501, is it still possible to apply for flight school? Possibly—the limit is based on the correction that is programmed into the laser, not your eyeglass prescription, so you may actually be within the limits. Your eye surgeon should be able to provide the required laser information to your flight surgeon. They will review the laser records (or the planned correction the surgeon provides you) and determine whether you are within limits.
                e. What information do I need to provide about my surgery and where do I get it? All the information needed is listed on the “Release of Medical Information” form. Provide the form to your eye surgeon and/or the eye doctor who is providing your vision care after surgery. You may have to submit multiple forms to get all of the required information.
                1. Surgical Information: Your eye surgeon will need to fill out the information about the laser, the type of surgeryand the amount of correction.
                2. Manifest Refraction: You will need three post-surgical refractions (measures of any residual prescription) and three visual acuities. This information can be a combination of examinations provided by your surgical center, your optometry office and your flight physical.
                3. Corneal Exam (Slit-Lamp Exam): You will need verification that your cornea is clear of haze or any other postsurgical complication. Your eye doctor can provide this information.
                4. Corneal Topography: This is the corneal map that shows the shape of your cornea after surgery. You must have a color copy of the map, either mailed, e-mailed, or taken to your flight surgeon. FAX’d versions are currently not acceptable because they come through in black and white.
                5. LOW Contrast Sensitivity: This is a measure of your vision under low contrast conditions (5% is the preferred method). Normal low contrast is 20/40 or better, but with
                corrective surgery, acceptable limits are 20/60 or better. Ask your eye doctor about availability of a contrast sensitivity or low contrast acuity test in your area. Examples of acceptable tests are:
                VisTech Contrast Grating Test
                Functional Acuity Contrast Test (F.A.C.T.)
                Pelli-Robson Contrast Sensitivity Test
                Bailey-Lovie 10% low contrast acuity chart
                ETDRS low contrast acuity chart (5% is preferred)
                Mentor BVAT low contrast acuity chart (set on 5%)
                f. What do I do if a contrast sensitivity or low contrast acuity test is not available in my area? Your packet can be processed without this test, if the other eye information you provide indicates a good outcome from the surgery (specifically the corneal topography and corneal exam). Your local flight surgeon will make this determination. NOTE: If not done prior to coming to flight school, you must have it completed with your Rucker flight physical prior to beginning flight training. Integrity as a future warrant officer or officer dictates that you disclose this need to the Rucker Physical Exam staff to coordinate having this done. Make sure your eye doctor notes on the form that these tests are not available to you.
                g. Where do I send all of my information? Your flight surgeon should collect and submit as much information as possible on AERO. Additional information may be mailed or fax’d to AAMA (USAAMA (MCXY-AER), US Army Aeromedical Center, Building 301, Fort Rucker, AL 36362 or fax 334 255-7030 or 7606). Note: the color corneal topography, if needed, must be mailed or emailed to aama@amedd.army.mil.
                **ATTENTION ALL APPLICANTS: ALL REQUIRED INFORMATION SENT TO USAAMA MUST BE COMPLETE!** You will be subject to a returned/delayed packet if you do not follow these instructions.
                2. Questions about the flight physical
                a. How long do I have to wait after surgery to get a flight physical? You should wait at least one month after surgery before starting your flight physical for your vision to stabilize.
                b. I already took a flight physical before surgery; do I have to take another physical? No, as long as your initial Class 1 flight physical is still valid (up to 18 months). You MUST repeat the eye exam portion of the flight physical after surgery, however, and submit the required information. Coordinate this through your flight surgeon and the supporting eye clinic.
                c. I have not taken a general military entrance physical yet; do I have to do that first? Yes, if you have not taken the MEPS, ROTC or other entrance physical, you will have to complete that physical before scheduling your flight physical. The entrance physicals require a 90-day waiting period after refractive surgery. Therefore you will have to wait 3 months after surgery, take the entrance physical, and then you can schedule to take the flight physical. You will have to
                coordinate this with your recruiter. Go to the link “Refractive Surgery” on the USAARL website (www.usaarl.army.mil) to find the current Army Surgeon General’s policy.
                d. I still need to wear glasses after surgery; does that mean I will fail the flight physical? No, as long as you meet the general entry standards for Class 1 which include 20/50 or better uncorrected visual acuity, and no more than –1.50 diopters of myopia or +3.00 diopters of hyperopia or 1.00 diopters of astigmatism. If you are outside of these limits, however, you will need an ETP. You should consult with your eye doctor and flight surgeon if this is the case.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

                  My advice would be to schedule a Class 1 flight physical to see if you are disqualified for something else other than eyes before you go through with the surgery. People get disqualified for many reasons like hearing, arm length, EKG results, etc.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

                    Originally posted by novak23z28 View Post
                    Sir, here is the surgery fact sheet that I found online. I am curious though as to whether or not I need to have all this done before securing a flight slot, or if there is a way I can secure a slot provisionally and get my eyes done in the period between Phase 3 and BOLC? I am positive I meed the pre surgery standards also.
                    This is an issue best addressed to your OSM and SAAO. As the other reply has mentioned, you may have other issues at play.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

                      There is one other avenue I have been considering. I am still young and would like to have as many experiences in the military as I possibly can. Therefore, I was wondering if it is possible to initially branch something in the combat arms (other than aviation), continue my service for a few years up to the rank of Captain, then resign my commission and go warrant officer to pursue aviation. Like I said, time is on my side, but I would like to know if anyone has ever heard of this happening, or if it is even possible? I have heard of people who already are aviation officers resigning their commission at O3 or 04 and going warrant to still get flight time, but I haven't heard of someone doing this who was not already branched aviation.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

                        Originally posted by novak23z28 View Post
                        There is one other avenue I have been considering. I am still young and would like to have as many experiences in the military as I possibly can. Therefore, I was wondering if it is possible to initially branch something in the combat arms (other than aviation), continue my service for a few years up to the rank of Captain, then resign my commission and go warrant officer to pursue aviation. Like I said, time is on my side, but I would like to know if anyone has ever heard of this happening, or if it is even possible? I have heard of people who already are aviation officers resigning their commission at O3 or 04 and going warrant to still get flight time, but I haven't heard of someone doing this who was not already branched aviation.
                        In theory, I don't see why you couldn't do this providing you meet the technical and other requirements for WO Aviation. What I don't understand is why you would want to do this? It sounds like it would be a lot of hard working going in one direction (Combat Arms Officer) just to switch gears in the end to do what you REALLY want (Aviation WO). Personally, common sense says stay on the path of Aviation. Whether as an Officer or WO is debatable, but why work harder than you have to?

                        With that being said, perhaps someone can chime in here that has had experience with resigning a commission to go WO. I don't have any personal anecdotes to add.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

                          Originally posted by RyCass View Post
                          In theory, I don't see why you couldn't do this providing you meet the technical and other requirements for WO Aviation. What I don't understand is why you would want to do this? It sounds like it would be a lot of hard working going in one direction (Combat Arms Officer) just to switch gears in the end to do what you REALLY want (Aviation WO). Personally, common sense says stay on the path of Aviation. Whether as an Officer or WO is debatable, but why work harder than you have to?

                          With that being said, perhaps someone can chime in here that has had experience with resigning a commission to go WO. I don't have any personal anecdotes to add.
                          Yes it can be done. There are several O grades that rebranched down here now, the highest I've seen being a CPT (most of them intend to revert to WO later down the line though as this is supposedly damaging to their career progression). There are also a few former LT's down here that reverted to WO in order to attend.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

                            I had a Candidate come to me because they went ahead and had LASIK surgery. Because of the surgery she was put on a medical profile and was not allowed to begin training and it has pushed her begining Pre OCS back now close to 8 months. I would recommend that you hold off on doing anything until after you have completed Phase III. You can always branch transfer.

                            SSG Cranford
                            VA OCS

                            Originally posted by novak23z28 View Post
                            Hello all.

                            I am new to this forum and hope to gain lots of useful advice in the next few months. I am currently in Phase 2 of Traditional OCS (PA). I have just finished Phase 1 at CFMR in MD and my first Phase 2 drill is in September. I have many questions, and I have searched the website for answers, and I will try to only ask questions to which I am unable to find answers for.

                            I am currently branched medical service corps; However I am thinking about switching to something a little more exciting like aviation. I would really cherish the opportunity to become a pilot, but my eyes require PRK or LASIK in order to meet the physical requirements. I realize that I have plenty of time to get my branched changed between now and commissioning, but I would like to know when would be a good time to get my eyes fixed? I believe I would have to dis-enroll from phase 2 or 3, or maybe even sit on my commission in order to get that 2 month evaluation period between the surgery and physical. There are plenty of aviation slots opening up, it's just a matter of me getting physically qualified in order to secure a slot. I would also like to know if anyone has had any experience from my point of view? Would I be able to have a civilian doctor perform the surgery or do I have to get on that long military waiting list? Money is not an issue and I don't care if I have to pay for the surgery. BTW I am 24 so as a last resort I am willing to stick with my branch and possibly go WO in 3 years or so if that is another viable alternative?

                            Any help would be greatly appreciated.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Wanting to branch aviation.

                              Alcon, I was told this weekend that I am able to get the surgery whenever I want ( I do anticipate to get a preliminary physical at MEPS to make sure I have no other issues besides vision), and it will not affect my OCS drill status. A question that I did have a hard time finding the answer to was whether or not PA accepts flight school applicants with a history of LASIK/PRK. One of my TACs was actually in the same situation as myself a few years ago and was unable to attend flight school at the time because PA did not allow the surgery, while the active side and other states allowed it. Is anyone on here familiar with PA's policy and able to give guidance? I would have a hard time believing they do not accept the surgeries due to the high number of flight slots PA has available.
                              Last edited by novak23z28; November 5th, 2012, 12:57 PM. Reason: my terrible grammar !

                              Comment

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