Pigman going back to Mid-East
Gary Pinnell | Highlands TodaySEBRING Well, that's one way to get out of hurricane season.
Published: March 7, 2013
Published: March 7, 2013
After the Florida Legislative session ends in May, State Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, will trade his business suit for desert fatigues.
Lt. Col. Pigman will report for active duty as an emergency medicine physician for Operation New Dawn in Kuwait. That's a week after the 2013 legislative session ends.
The Army Reserves called about three weeks ago, which is why Rick Scott gave a shout-out to Pigman on Tuesday during the governor's state-of-the-state address.
"Actually, I think it's a bigger shock to Darlene," Pigman said Thursday. "I'll be gone for about four months, so it's up to (his wife) to deal with the hurricanes, the dogs, the horses and the sheep."
Reservist doctors are usually deployed three months, then they're not activated again for 24 months. He's already been to Iraq and Guatemala.
"They called and said they needed me, and I told them what I was doing," said Pigman, who was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in November. "If you work with them, they work with you. In this circumstance, they asked, 'When does your session end?' I said 'May 3.' They said, 'Can you report May 10?' I said, 'Yes I can.'"
"I am blessed to be a community doctor and a representative of the folks of the 55th House District," said Pigman, whose day job is emergency room doctoring at Florida Hospital Heartland. "Both of these endeavors are important and rewarding. A third endeavor that is equally important and rewarding is serving the young men and women of our armed forces. I ask only that you pray for a safe return of all our overseas service men and women."
Pigman has three legislative staff members in Sebring and Tallahassee, so constituent services will go on as normal.
In Kuwait, Pigman will work with a medical group from tents and trailers, similar to the Korean-era TV show M.A.S.H. "Except we call it CASH now, Combat Support Hospital."
Kuwait is no longer a war zone, so what will he do? Although soldiers are restricted from answering mission-specific questions, Pigman could say that most soldiers injured in combat in Afghanistan or Iraq or are treated in-country, then flown to Germany.
Doctors in Kuwait will treat officers and enlisted personnel who are sick or injured while they're stationed or moving through Kuwait. Americans and foreigners? Pigman couldn't answer that question.
Why are doctors deployed 90 days when other National Guardsmen are gone for nine to 15 months?
"Good question," Pigman said. When the Middle East conflict flared after 2001, Army Reserve doctors were called up for 12 to 15 months. However, when they came home, they promptly resigned their commissions, Pigman said.
"After a long rotation, there was no practice to come home to," Pigman said. Since 70 percent of Army doctors are reservists, the Army was asked how long doctors could be deployed.
"They figured out that practices could take a 90-day deployment," Pigman said, "so they just do more of them."
For most soldiers, deployment means a considerable loss of job income. Is it the same for doctors?
"The good news is that being an Army doctor pays better than being a legislator," Pigman laughed. Florida representatives and senators earn about $30,000 a year. The bad news is that it's still a 50 percent pay cut.
email@example.com (863) 386-5828