Air Force Representative
Ben Hando, PT, DSc and Josh Van Wyngaarden, PT, DPT PhD
Air Force physical therapists use state-of-the-art technology to practice comprehensive orthopedic and sports medicine in military hospitals and clinics throughout the world. They treat patients and engage in ergonomic evaluations and preventive medicine activities involving Airmen serving in every Air Force career from those working on the ground to those in the air. The majority of Air Force recruits are from the civilian economy as only two seats in the Army Baylor Physical Therapy Program are reserved for the Air Force. There are no dedicated ROTC physical therapist slots, but ROTC is another accession option. As in all military services, active duty physical therapists may be competitively selected to pursue advanced degrees with tuition and fees paid while incurring an active duty service obligation based on the program length. Opportunities exist for civilians to work in government service and contract positions and the Air Force is currently recruiting to fill those vacancies. At the present time there are no loan forgiveness opportunities for Air Force physical therapists.18
The Air Force is the youngest Service and shares its history with the Army from which the Army Air Corps and eventually the Air Force grew. The Air Force Medical Service was created in 1949. In the Air Force, most physical therapists work in MTFs and care for patients with orthopedic problems. More generally, physical therapists evaluate, treat and prevent orthopedic (e.g., sprains, strains, fractures), neurologic (e.g., multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy), and cardiopulmonary disorders (e.g., heart disease).
Finally, here’s what the personnel command says a physical therapist does, “Plans, develops, and manages physical therapy programs and activities. Implements research activities. Provides and conducts training in physical therapy. Evaluates patients and treats disabilities requiring physical therapy.
Physical therapy began in the military with the treatment
Navy physical therapists are members of the U.S. Navy
Public Health Service
The Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible