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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, enacted March 23, 2010, gave the USPHS the authority to create the Ready Reserve Corps, a new component of the USPHS Commissioned Corps.
The purpose of the Ready Reserve Corps will be to have additional Commissioned Corps personnel available on short notice (similar to the other uniformed services' reserve programs) to assist full-time Commissioned Corps personnel to meet both routine public health and emergency response missions.
Prior to the passage of this law, the USPHS Commissioned Corps did not have a reserve component to call upon in this fashion. The Ready Reserve Corps members will perform duties for assigned periods of time as opposed to full-time Corps members who are on extended active duty.
Joining the Ready Reserve Corps is voluntary; however, future members of the Ready Reserve Corps join knowing that they can be called at any time to serve in times of national need. The Ready Reserve Corps officers will participate in routine training; be available and ready for calls to active duty during national emergencies and public health crises or to backfill critical positions left vacant during deployment of full-time Corps members; or be available for service assignments in isolated, hardship, and medically underserved communities.
An individual assigned to the IRR typically receives no pay and is not obligated to drill, conduct annual training, or participate in any military activities (except for periodic Muster activities) until activated by Presidential Reserve Callup Authority or until electing to drill, train, or serve in a "Drill without Pay" or an "Active Duty" role.
The board is calling for new laws and policies that would redefine the IRR and the role of more than 250,000 young veterans who do not drill regularly or receive pay but have prior military service and are committed to mobilize in the event of a crisis.
The Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), sometimes called the Inactive Ready Reserve, is composed of former military personnel who still have time remaining on their enlistment agreements but have returned to civilian life. They are eligible to be called up in "states of emergency."
In October 2014, many veterans were stunned to learn that President Obama signed an executive order authorizing the recall of IRR reservists in case they were needed for Operation United Assistance, the military mission to curtail spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa. That mission ended earlier than expected and no IRR troops were recalled.
Since then, Glendening has declined to comment saying, "I'm under direct orders not to divulge anything further and am subject to military prosecution if I do."
Other members of Johnson's Army Reserve unit have suggested they are under similar gag orders as active-duty personnel.