Military Life

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

Yes, there are jokes aplenty that tear down reservists for anything ranging from a lack of physical fitness to a disregard of regulations to even workspace cleanliness. If you were to judge solely from the bad rap they get from active duty, it'd be hard to fathom that the Reserves play any real role in the military.


The Reserves, for every military branch, require two days of duty a month (drill weekends) and two weeks of mandatory training per year. However, most of the time, reservists are called upon to come in and train more than just two days each month.

Stereotypically, reservists are thought of as "weekend warriors" or part-time military members, but this couldn't be further from the truth, especially when talking about specific career fields (MOS/AFSCs). In fact, the majority of our fighting forces are made up of reservists that get activated or volunteer to deploy during conflict.

Members of the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 86th AES recently participated in a three-day training mission in which real-world troops and cargo were transported from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. to Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK. Missions like this highlight the Air Force Reserve's commitment to getting the most value possible out of each and every flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st. Lt. Jeff Kelly)

Although there is a multitude of career fields in every branch of the Reserves, it just so happens that the Air Force Reserves has been allotted one of the most sacred duties of them all: Transporting our wounded warriors back home to their families. Today's aeromedical evacuation (AE) process is a far cry from what we have seen in the past American Wars.

The Air Force Reserves is mobile, efficient, and skilled in triage and, of course, organizing paperwork — yes, paperwork is important! When it comes to patient movement, especially when flying from base to base, flight nurses and medical technicians need to have correct patient diagnoses, medications, proper training, and medical equipment.

Related: 7 reasons why active duty hate on reservists

How else would they be able to ensure a 98% survival rate that is currently the highest survival rate among all American wars? Not too shabby for a bunch of reservists, right?

There are a total of eighteen AE squadrons under Air Force Reserve Command, nine under the Air National Guard, and four under active duty — two in the U.S. and two overseas.

(U.S. Air Force photo by 1st. Lt. Jeff Kelly)

Training, training, and more training is a big reason the survival rate statistic has climbed recently. The Air Force Reserves trains to deploy and are always ready to go at a moment's notice.

There are also aircraft attached explicitly to AE missions, such as the C-130, C-17, and KC-135, which are godsends to all of our injured troops. Training on each of these aircraft is mandatory for anyone attached to an AE medical crew.

Thanks to drastic improvements in technology and the specialized skills of AE medical crews, the wounded are no longer misdiagnosed due to incorrect paperwork, and they are not left in the field for months at a time, waiting for a plane to take them back to their families.

Next time someone cracks a joke about a reservist, even though some of the stereotypes ring a little true, remember the crucial role they play in the big operational puzzle that is our armed forces, especially in regards to bringing home our wounded warriors.