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Emergency Physician Flies High With ANG

U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Bonnes, 144th Medical Group flight surgeon, joined the Air National Guard after completing emergency medicine residency at Johns Hopkins, Md. Bonnes is a full-time civilian emergency physician in Oakland, Calif., and a part-time Air Force flight surgeon. He serves and trains at the Fresno Air National Guard Base one weekend every month on top of any additional training exercises scheduled throughout the year. (U.S. Air National Guard illustration by Senior Airman Klynne Pearl Serrano)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Bonnes, 144th Medical Group flight surgeon, joined the Air National Guard after completing emergency medicine residency at Johns Hopkins, Md. Bonnes is a full-time civilian emergency physician in Oakland, Calif., and a part-time Air Force flight surgeon. He serves and trains at the Fresno Air National Guard Base one weekend every month on top of any additional training exercises scheduled throughout the year. (U.S. Air National Guard illustration by Senior Airman Klynne Pearl Serrano)

FRESNO AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. -- There is great demand for medical professionals in the civilian world, and more so in the U.S. military. Military commissioned officer training programs allow civilian physicians a chance to serve their country as leaders in the medical field.

U.S. Air Force Maj.  Benjamin Bonnes, 144th Medical Group flight surgeon, joined the Air National Guard after completing medical school at Albany Medical College, N.Y. and emergency medicine residency at Johns Hopkins, Md.

"I've always been interested in joining the Air Force," Bonnes said. "My biggest inspiration to join was during medical school."

Bonnes started attending medical school September of 2001.

"I was in my first week of medical school when 9/11 took place," Bonnes said. "Half of my class was from New York City. Everyone in the country was affected, and it especially struck close to home being surrounded by my classmates who were from there."

Bonnes joined the ANG in 2010 and attended the Reserve Commissioned Officer Training, a two-week course in Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. The RCOT program is designed for Reserve medical officers who are extremely hard to recruit, which is determined by the units' functional managers.

"This was my most formal military training," Bonnes said.

RCOT is so compact compared to the traditional five-week Commissioned Officer Training program, but the two-week course still includes the same military training and leadership development for future AF officers. Only two RCOT classes are available per fiscal year.

Bonnes is an emergency physician in Oakland, Calif. and travels to Fresno one weekend every month to serve as a flight surgeon at the 144th Fighter Wing.

"Non-military physicians might be a little wary about how the military training will affect them and their career," Bonnes said. "But the Air Force will take care of you."

Bonnes joined the ANG as a Captain, or O-3 in the U.S. Air Force.

"I've been able to participate in large-scale disaster response teams and I've learned some very sophisticated aviation and aeronautical medicine," Bonnes said. "Joining the Air National Guard has been an exciting adventure that allows me to explore whole new realms of medicine that are utterly unavailable in the civilian world."

Depending on the medical physician recruit's specialty, loan repayment bonuses may be available upon joining. These bonuses vary each fiscal year.

For more information about joining the ANG, please contact the local recruiters at (559) 454-5286.