Why Me? Why Can’t Someone Else Deploy?

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There have been a number of posts about deployments. We talked about how to max out your TSP, how dwell time works, gear lists, how to get clinical help while deployed, and the different types of deployments. Here is another deployment mystery revealed…

OK Specialty Leader…why do I have to deploy? What about all these other people? Can’t they go?

There are many people whose turn it is to deploy but who cannot deploy. In my experience, the reasons include:

  • They are pregnant or within 1 year post-partum, both of which made you non-deployable.
  • They have LIMDU or medical issues that make them non-deployable.
  • They are in a non-deployable position, like being a CO or working at the White House.
  • They are already with an operational unit, and the operational unit controls if/when they deploy, not the Specialty Leader. For example, I can’t deploy my ER docs who are stationed with the Marines. The Marines decide when they deploy, not me.
  • They have an upcoming resignation/retirement/PCS. You have to have at least 90 days left between the end of a deployment and your end of service or upcoming PCS.
  • They are in GME. Residents and fellows are non-deployable.
  • They have legal issues that keep them from deploying.

In addition to the factors listed above that make someone non-deployable, there are limitations on:

  • Rank – You can only go +/- one rank without a waiver. In other words, if the deployment is for a LCDR you can go down one to a LT or up one to a CDR. You can’t send a CAPT without a waiver, which might not be approved.
  • Security clearances – If people have an expired or soon-to-be expired security clearance, it can be a problem.
  • Manning in the various commands – As the Emergency Medicine Specialty Leader, which doctor I select to deploy often has more to do with the physician manning in the various ERs than whose turn it is.
  • OCONUS vs CONUS – For some deployments people from OCONUS can fill them, for others they can’t.
  • Board exam dates – As the Specialty Leader, I don’t deploy someone if it will mess up their board certification exams.
  • Commands pushing back – After I submit names for a deployment, the officer’s command can RECLAMA, which is an official non-concur with my selection. These are adjudicated by the regions (Navy Medicine East and Navy Medicine West).
  • Other things I’m undoubtedly forgetting.

For example, I just got a request for a deployment, but it overlaps all of the Emergency Medicine oral board exam dates in 2018. In addition, I was told I can’t send anyone from OCONUS. This means I can’t send any new residency graduates or anyone from OCONUS, even if they volunteer. As you can imagine, this limits who I can send and explains why someone might have to deploy for a 2nd or 3rd time when there are others who haven’t deployed.

BOTTOM LINE – When it comes to picking people for deployments, you can see there are many limitations on the process that affect who is eligible to deploy. So I guess you’ll just have to go…

Guest Post – Maximizing TSP Contributions During Deployment

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[Editor’s Note – The process of contributing to the TSP above the $18K annual limit while deployed can be confusing. Thanks to Dr. Levi Kitchen for giving us a first hand summary of how it works.]

By LCDR Levi Kitchen (Levikk81 < at >

Deployment offers a number of financial benefits, including tax free pay which can be directly contributed to your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). However, this can be tricky. The following numbers are based on 2017 limits, which can be seen at this link.

Normally, the elective deferral limit is $18,000 annually. A deferral is defined as the money you elect to remove from your paycheck and contribute to the TSP. This includes either Roth or traditional TSP contributions. When deployed to a combat zone and therefore receiving combat zone tax exempt (CZTE) pay, the deferral limit for the current calendar year increases to $54,000. However, even when receiving CZTE pay, you cannot exceed $18,000 in contributions to your Roth TSP. The remaining $36,000 would have to be contributed to the traditional TSP. Also, in order to take advantage of the higher limit, the money has to come from your CZTE pay, which has to come directly from your paycheck. So, you can only take advantage of the higher deferral limits while receiving CZTE pay, not after.

Although the decision between the Roth and traditional TSP can be complicated (a matrix can be seen here), it’s probably smartest to max contributions to the Roth TSP first as, due to the CZTE, this money will never be taxed by the federal government. Once you reach a total contribution of $18,000 to the Roth TSP, DFAS will automatically stop deducting money from your paycheck. At this point, you need to change your contributions to traditional TSP in MyPay, because you’ve reached the limit of allowable Roth TSP contributions. Automatic deductions to the traditional TSP would again stop once you reach the total limit of $54,000 ($18,000 in Roth TSP and $36,000 in traditional TSP) for the calendar year, or you stop receiving CZTE pay.

As far as I know, once you stop receiving CZTE pay, your annual limit returns to $18,000 regardless of either Roth or traditional contributions. If you’ve already contributed over $18,000 while deployed, then you cannot contribute anymore to your TSP for that calendar year.

For any comments or questions, please email Levi at Levikk81 < at >

2017 TCCC Quick Reference Guide

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Download your copy of the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) Quick Reference Guide:

TCCC Quick Reference Guide 2017

What you get: Abbreviated TCCC Guidelines, TCCC in Algorithm Format, Pharmacology Reference specific to TCCC, Planning Considerations, and more…

How to Get Up-To-Date on DVD if You are Deploying

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If you want to get a copy of Up-To-Date on DVD because you are deploying, you just have to send your mailing address to:

Robin.Vello <at>