PRK Surgery for Flight School

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by Waterpologoaliedad, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. Waterpologoaliedad

    Waterpologoaliedad Member

    Aug 8, 2016
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    My son wants to fly for the military. He has vision that is correctable to 20/20. The Navy said they would treat him with PRK surgery if accepted. Does anyone know if the Coast Guard does this for thier students seeking Flight Training?
  2. Tex232

    Tex232 Member

    Nov 24, 2015
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    When you say Navy, are you referring to the Naval Academy or a different commissioning source? I think the academy does treat midshipmen that wish to attend flight training, but if you go through OCS or ROTC, I'm pretty sure that if you need the surgery that you have to get it done on your own time and dime before you take a flight physical.

    I would think the CG academy would also pay for PRK, but keep in mind that the majority of each CG academy class goes afloat on their first assignment. I think only around 10% of each class goes directly to flight school. I'm sure you would find more Naval Academy grads headed to flight school as their first assignment than you would Coast Guard Academy cadets. Not saying its necessarily harder to get into flight school through the CG, but with your son's situation, he may want to look at both.
  3. trackandfield08

    trackandfield08 USCGA 2014 10-Year Member

    Sep 18, 2008
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    The short answer to this is yes, the Coast Guard will pay to have your son undergo PRK surgery. I have several friends and co-workers, some of whom are pilots, who were treated while at the Academy and others who were treated at their first unit. To my knowledge, the Coast Guard doesn't prioritize those interested in flight school over other applicants....those other applicants include both officers and enlisted personnel. The process is not lengthy but does require some legwork from your son. If he's accepted and attends the Academy, he'll have the discussion with his assigned Primary Care Manager (aka doctor) and move forward that way. Your name goes on a list and then you wait.

    Tex is right when he says that most CGA graduates are assigned to a ship upon graduation, the percentage is around 10%. Obviously, USNA is about four times larger than USCGA so yes, there are more midshipmen reporting to flight school after graduation, but I couldn't give you the percentage breakdown on that. That being said, understand that just because your son wants flight school, doesn't mean he will get it right away, no matter what SA he chooses to attend. In my opinion, that's not a bad thing. A lot of aviators I've worked with on my ship during deployments believe that its worth it for a pilot to have some shipboard experience because it makes them a better pilot with respect to operating environment, understanding of the work that goes into flight ops on a ship, etc. Once your commissioned, the CG solicits for Flight School approximately every six months. Every classmate I know of who wanted flight school at the Academy has now entered flight school at this point, just three years after graduation. Those who went out to the fleet and realized they wanted to fly have also been accepted. Bottom line...if you want flight school, its almost a guarantee that you'll get it at some point barring any medical or conduct issues. It just might not be at the exact moment you want it.
    AuxNoob likes this.
  4. Gaff1225

    Gaff1225 Member

    Oct 30, 2017
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    The CG/Tricare (CG medical insurance) does not pay for PRK. Its considered elective surgery. Members can go to a miltary facility for the procedure and not pay out of pocket for the procedure, but travel and lodging is on the members dime as its an elective procedure. Or they can have it at a non military facility and pay for it. They also need to use their leave for procedures and follow ups because its elective. Members may have been doing follow ups at the CGA clinic with the contracted optometrist who is no longer there, but that is because he agreed to follow them after a certain point in their aftercare.
  5. Aeroman65

    Aeroman65 Member

    Jul 26, 2017
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    This topic just seems contradictory. Any form of eye correcting surgery is cause for medical disqualification during the initial application process. Seems strange that it would be acceptable to obtain a flight school slot.
    Waterpologoaliedad likes this.
  6. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

    Sep 27, 2008
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    It’s a matter of quality control.
    Eye surgery, using Service-approved methods, will be approved by them within certain parameters, and down the line, that means, in most cases, flight school qualifying. The reason for the rigor is that there isn’t as much research available for post-surgery pilot eyes under military flying conditions, combat, and altitude/pressure/G’s over the long haul. So, the Services take a conservative approach, their method, their docs, their parameters for eligibility, to ensure they don’t invest training dollars in someone whose eye surgery may not hold up. If the surgery is done before military service, those same controls are not in place.

    I know there are exceptions to this for various commissioning sources, but that is the general thinking about the PRK surgery as related to me by the USNA Brigade MO.
    Aeroman65 likes this.