In today’s post, I’m going to educate you on everything I know about the Army 68W MOS, the combat medic. This is an important, demanding, challenging, and rewarding Army MOS with LOTS of opportunities in the Army, and after you leave the service. If you enjoy helping people and want to learn a skill that can provide you a fulfilling, prosperous career, look no further.
This post will cover many aspects of the Combat Medic to include:
- The Creed
- Job Description
- Primary Duties & Responsibilities
- Requirements & Qualifications
- Career Opportunities
- Skill Identifiers
- Famous Combat Medics
- & More!
Please bookmark and share this post with anyone you know considering this MOS.
The Combat Medic Creed
Let’s begin with the Combat Medic Creed.
My task is to provide to the utmost limits of my capability the best possible care to those in need of my aid and assistance.
To this end I will aid all those who are needful, paying no heed to my own desires and wants; treating friend, foe and stranger alike, placing their needs above my own.
To no man will I cause or permit harm to befall, nor will I refuse aid to any who seek it.
I will willingly share my knowledge and skills with all those who seek it.
I seek neither reward nor honor for my efforts for the satisfaction of accomplishment is sufficient.
These obligations I willingly and freely take upon myself in the tradition of those that have come before me.
These things we do so that others may live.
Army 68W MOS Basic Job Description
The Army Combat Medic has one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the Army. Instead of shooting at the enemy, they must jog, sprint, or crawl dodging bullets while watching for mines with their medical kit to aid wounded Soldiers.
When they hear “Medic,” the 68W makes his way to the wounded Soldier and provides enough medical care so the Soldier can be transported to an emergency care center. If no battles are in progress, the 68W works with other medical professionals in Army healthcare centers and hospitals.
Here is an additional job description I found for the Army Combat Medic.
The Health Care Specialist is primarily responsible for providing emergency medical treatment, limited primary care, and health protection and evacuation from a point of injury or illness. Health Care Specialists are often called “combat medics” in the Army because some Soldiers in this MOS are assigned to deploy with Army combat units and provide emergency medical treatment directly in combat zones. Other Health Care Specialists are assigned to military hospitals and clinics to assist doctors and nurses with the health care needs of patients. ~ The Balances Careers
Army 68W MOS Primary Duties & Responsibilities
So what are the primary duties and responsibilities of the 68W? Here’s a list that covers probably 95% of what they do.
- Give emergency medical treatment to wounded personnel.
- Assist with care in medical care facilities.
- Manage medical readiness for Soldiers which includes medical supplies and equipment.
- Work as instructors for Soldiers in the Combat First Respond and Lifesaver course.
- Provide cover fire in circumstances of enemy aggression.
- Accompany combat patrols for medical service if needed.
- Initiate field treatments.
- Plan and execute evacuation of injured Soldiers from the battlefield.
- Administer preventive medicines.
- Perform field sanitation.
- Supportive care.
- Plan and administer Combat Lifesaver courses.
- Serving as needed at mobile hospitals.
- Stocking medical supplies.
- Preparing samples for lab tests.
- Applying casts.
- Preparing operating rooms for surgery.
- Sterilizing instruments.
- And General patient care.
Keep in mind, their duties may vary slightly based upon their duty assignment and the type of unit they are assigned to.
Requirements To Become an Army 68W: Combat Medic
Here are the basic requirements to become an Army Combat Medic:
- United States citizen or legal resident alien.
- High School diploma or GED.
- Between 17-35 years old. The maximum age may be higher for those who previously served in the United States military.
- Pass a medical exam.
- Pass a background check.
- No security clearance required.
- ASVAB score of 107 in General Technical and 101 in Skilled Technical.
- Moderately Heavy strength requirement.
- a PULHES of 222121.
- Complete Basic Training & Advanced Individual Training.
Initial Training For The Army 68W
Like any other Soldier, the 68W must attend approximately 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training (BCT) where they will learn how to be a Soldier first and foremost. From there, it is off to Fort Sam Houston for Advanced Individual Training for 16-weeks. While at AIT, they will learn the skills to take care of the battlefield wounded.
68W MOS Additional Skill Identifiers
There are also many Additional Skill Identifiers the 68W can learn and earn:
- M3 – Dialysis (Identifies positions requiring Soldiers qualified in the operation of dialysis equipment and the treatment of patients with kidney disorders)
- M6 – Practical/Vocational Nurse (M6 is now identified as MOS 68C)
- N1 – Aircraft Crewmember Standardization Instruction
- N3 – Occupational Therapy (N3 is now identified as MOS 68L)
- and many others
Training is rigid, so be prepared. Also, keep in mind the Army may change these skill identifiers from time to time.
Army Medic Medical Badges
The Army currently offers two medical badges Combat Medics medics can earn or qualify for. They include the Expert Field Medical Badge and the Combat Medic Badge. I’ll cover more on each badge below.
Expert Field Medical Badge
Here are some interesting facts about the Expert Field Medical Badge.
- It was first created on June 18, 1965.
- It is the non-combat equivalent of the Combat Medical Badge (more on that in the following paragraphs).
- To qualify, medical personnel must complete and pass a series of written and performance tests.
- Soldiers cannot wear both awards at the same time, the Combat Medic Badge has precedence.
- It is one of the most difficult badges to earn in the Army, with a pass rate of less than 20 percent.
- The badge design was oxidized silver consisting of a stretcher placed horizontally behind a caduceus with a cross of the Geneva Convention at the junction of the wings, 15/16 inch high and 1 7/17 inches long. It has not changed since its inception.
Today, the EFMB test is the utmost challenge to the professional competence and physical endurance of the Soldier medic. It is the most sought after peacetime award in the AMEDD, and while the Combat Medical Badge is the “portrait of courage” in wartime, the Expert Field Medical Badge is undoubtedly the “portrait of excellence” in the Army all of the time. ~ Medcoe.army.mil
Army Combat Medic Badge
In the paragraphs below, I am going to provide you with 8 cool facts about the Army Combat Medical Badge you may not had known.
1: Created in 1945.
The Army Combat Medical Badge was created early in 1945. The award was given retroactive status back to 1941 at the start of World War II. The design of this award consists of an oak wreath on the outer edge with a stretcher across it. In the center is a Caduceus which is a staff with Eagle’s wings at the top and 2 snakes wrapped around it. At the very top is the Greek cross.
2: Coincides with the Combat Infantry Badge.
The War Department had designated the Combat Infantry Badge for those who faced the enemy as infantry Soldiers. The Combat Medical Badge was meant to be the equivalent for medics who were right there with those infantry Soldiers. As a medic, if you were within the combat zone, it was almost embarrassing if you did not have a CMB. Some Soldiers would even not want you touching them if you were not wearing one.
3: Those who earned the Combat Medical Badge in World War II also were awarded the Bronze Star.
During World War II, only Soldiers who had performed combat duties, and risked life and limb could receive the Bronze Star. It was recognized that these medics were right in the midst of the bullets and shells, and they also deserved the Bronze Star. In 1947 the policy was authorized that all medics who received a Combat Medical Badge would also receive the Bronze Star.
4: United States Navy and Air Force Medics can also be awarded the Combat Medical Badge.
Even though the CMB is an Army award, you just may see someone in the Navy or Air Force wearing this prestigious award. If they were attached to an Army unit that was engaged by the enemy, and they met all the requirements of U.S. Army Medical personnel, they could be awarded the Combat Medical Badge.
5: Special Forces medics cannot receive the Combat Medical Badge.
You may be wondering why. It is true…Special Forces Medical personnel cannot receive the Combat Medical Badge; instead they are eligible to receive the Combat Infantry Badge which is just as honorable. This decision is also true for aviator medics too.
6: Only 2 medics have ever been awarded the Combat Medical Badge for 3 wars or conflicts.
A medic can only earn one of these during any certain conflict or war. If a medic wins multiple CMBs they are given them with stars representing the other awards. Only two medics have been awarded the Combat Medical Badge with two stars. These were from serving in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The names of these two Soldiers are Henry Jenkins and Wayne Slagel.
7: Vietnam was the most difficult conflict for medics to receive the Combat Medical Badge.
Whether it was because too many individuals were getting the award without actually performing the duties, or because of other reasons, commanders who were recommending the Combat Medical Badge during Vietnam had to document the coordinates of the location, the type of engagement with the enemy, the time of engagement and even the intensity of the firefight the medic faced. Fewer Combat Medic Badges were given out during Vietnam because of these stringent policies.
8: The War on Terror changed the eligibility requirements for the Combat Medical Badge.
War is no longer Soldiers facing each other with rifles and hand grenades. With the newer devices such as Improvised Explosive Devices(IEDs) and other forms of enemy attack, even medics that are working in a hospital behind friendly lines are still in danger’s path. It is now a commander’s prerogative on whether he/she should recommend any medics to be awarded the Combat Medical Badge. It is because of this that you may find some discrepancies on certain medic Soldiers receiving the award while others who were in the same location didn’t.
Famous Army Combat Medics
These are all combat medics I believe you should know about. They performed their duties above and beyond the call of duty, and should be remembered:
David Bleak was born in Idaho. He dropped out of school to join the Army and become a Combat Medic. He served in the Korean War and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Minari-gol, South Korea.
Rocco was a Combat Medic for the United States Army in Vietnam. In 1970, Rocco agreed to go on a medical evacuation when the helicopter they were in came into intense enemy fire. Rocco carries unconscious Soldiers to safety disregarding his own safety. In 1974, President Gerald Ford awarded Rocco the Medal of Honor.
Desmond Doss was a Combat Medic with the 77th Infantry Division in the Battle of Okinawa. He was also a conscientious objector because of his 7th Day Adventist beliefs. This didn’t stop him from performing life saving moves while being shot at. He ran through grenades and bullets to perform his Medic duties. For this, Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman. He might just be the most famous Army Combat Medic of all time.
This amazing woman and Combat Medic went up and above when the convoy she was riding in in Afghanistan was hit by a roadside bomb. She shielded the soldiers she was treating with her body. For this, Brown became the 2nd woman since World War II to receive a Silver Star. She was awarded it by Vice President Dick Cheney in 2008.
Thomas William Bennett was a United States Army medic who was killed in action during the Vietnam War and the second conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. Bennett received the medal after repeatedly putting himself in harm’s way to save wounded soldiers during operations in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He was mortally wounded during one of these actions in Pleiku Province, and received the Medal of Honor posthumously. ~ Wikipedia
Retired Capt. Gary “Mike” Rose Rose, received the Medal of Honor on October 23, 2017 for his actions as a combat medic in Laos, Sept. 11-14, 1970. Rose served as a medic during the Vietnam War. As part of the Army’s Special Forces, Rose took part in missions in nearby Laos that were meant, in part, to engage with North Vietnamese Army troops who had amassed there, and to possibly prevent them from returning to the larger fight back in Vietnam. ~ Health.mil
Joseph LaPointe, Jr.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. SPC4. LaPointe, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2d Squadron, distinguished himself while serving as a medical aidman during a combat helicopter assault mission. SPC4. LaPointe’s patrol was advancing from the landing zone through an adjoining valley when it suddenly encountered heavy automatic weapons fire from a large enemy force entrenched in well fortified bunker positions. In the initial hail of fire, 2 soldiers in the formation vanguard were seriously wounded. Hearing a call for aid from 1 of the wounded, SPC4. LaPointe ran forward through heavy fire to assist his fallen comrades. To reach the wounded men, he was forced to crawl directly in view of an enemy bunker. As members of his unit attempted to provide covering fire, he administered first aid to 1 man, shielding the other with his body. He was hit by a burst of fire from the bunker while attending the wounded soldier. In spite of his painful wounds, SPC4. LaPointe continued his lifesaving duties until he was again wounded and knocked to the ground. Making strenuous efforts, he moved back again into a shielding position to continue administering first aid. An exploding enemy grenade mortally wounded all 3 men. SPC4. LaPointe’s courageous actions at the cost of his life were an inspiration to his comrades. His gallantry and selflessness are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army. ~ Wikipedia
In conclusion, the Army Combat Medic is an important job in peacetime and in combat. It is demanding, tough, challenging, and high risk, yet very rewarding. If you enjoy the medical field, like to help people, and want a career that will serve you well in the military, and after you leave, I would highly recommend the 68W MOS: the Combat Medic.
What are your thoughts? Do you have experience in this job? If so, leave a comment below to let us know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.