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Security clearance requirements for physicians

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by TEL, May 9, 2008.

  1. TEL

    TEL

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    When I was a younger man I served as an enlisted member in one of our fine services. I had done some unwise things when I was a young man. My recruiter told me to not mention them since there was no record of the events. I followed his advice, got into the military, did very well and then separated. Now I am in medical school and considering taking a Navy scholarship. I feel a moral dilemma however.

    When I look at the SF-86 form I can honestly answer ‘no’ to those questions regarding certain activities included in the seven year time frame. I could answer ‘no’ if the time frame were ten years. Should I just shut my mouth and answer the question as they are written on the form or should I be volunteer information beyond the time frame listed? If I had always been a civilian I wouldn’t see a problem with the latter but considering my prior service I fear it could come back to bite me if I volunteered extra information.

    This leads me to a second question. What type of security clearances to physicians typically have in the military (and more specifically the Navy). Does everyone pretty much have Secret clearance or do a fair number have TS clearance (flight surgeons, etc.) Is it rank dependent? Do they say, ‘Oh, you are a CDR, you need TS clearance.’

    I am not looking for legal advice here, just people’s opinions from what they have experienced. Thanks!
     
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  3. orbitsurgMD

    orbitsurgMD Senior Member
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    All officers are cleared to "secret," including medical officers.
    TS clearance requires an FBI background investigation, only special assignments like the White House medical office require this level of clearance (probably others, but not many).

    Secret generally is limited to a National Agency Check, which is done by computer and is very quick. The FBI-BI is slow and expensive.

    All sensitive clearances are limited to "need to know", regardless of your clearance status, even if above TS.
     
  4. elderjack21

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    Actually, the FBI has nothing to do with granting TS clearances. Rather it is done by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). They have what would seem like an army of investigators that run around their area of the country following up on the references and data that you enter on your SF86, if you are applying for a TS.

    For a Secret Clearance you are correct, they do a NAC, local records check to see if you have tickets or other offenses on file with the local police department, and also check your medical records for other things that would make you unfit to have access to classified information.

    Fill out the form exactly as they are asking you to. If they want to know 7 years, answer 7 years back, if they want to know 10 years, answer 10 years, if they ask if you have ever done anything, answer it honestly.

    If you did something when you were younger and you are honest about it, you usually do not have any problems. At worst you will have to write a paragraph describing why you smoked pot once while you were in high school or something like that.

    If you lie about it, and they find out...and surprisingly they are pretty good about finding things out, then you are hosed.

    The biggest thing that catches people up are personal finances. Of the people that lost their clearances last year, or failed to get them in the first place, the vast majority have problems with too much debt, too many late bills, bankruptcy, etc.

    I have seen some physicians with TS clearances, it is for the most part location/job dependant rather than based on rank. I have seen PV2s with TS clearances, and LTC with Secret clearances.
     
  5. BigNavyPedsGuy

    BigNavyPedsGuy Junior Member
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  6. tulane06

    tulane06 Private Joker
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    I've been in the reserves for about a year, I filled out the paperwork for the clearance and submitted it, but they never actually started the investigation. Oh well, nobody's complained so far.
     
  7. dtrainer

    dtrainer San Antonio bound!
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    I don't think that is what he is saying at all. I think he is asking should he volunteer information about things that occured before the stated time period and if he doesn't will it come back to haunt him.
     
  8. Jolie South

    Jolie South is invoking Domo. . .
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    if the form says 7 years and he can honestly say "no" during that time frame, how could that be construed as lying?
     
  9. BigNavyPedsGuy

    BigNavyPedsGuy Junior Member
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    I read his original post wrong. I thought he was saying he was good for 7years not for 10 years. My mistake, I apologize
     
  10. elderjack21

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    It really wont be an issue until you have to deploy or are assigned to some elite unit that requires all of their personnel have a secret clearance. Likely when you show up to your first assignment somewhere they will see that you need a clearance and start it at that time. If you have a clean history, a secret can be obtained in a couple months (or at least interim secret, which is generally as good as the full one, kind of like prelim approval).

    Many people in the military do not have clearances, and most of the ones who do probably shouldn't have them either.
     
  11. sethco

    sethco Senior Member
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    Some docs, including flight docs, may need a top secret clearance based on where and what squadron they are assigned to.
     
  12. AFIM

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    This is pretty typical. You did the right thing - keep all the paperwork/files, submit it again, and expect that someone might lose it again. It's important that you do it, though, because otherwise they'll mess with your computer access.

     
  13. orbitsurgMD

    orbitsurgMD Senior Member
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    Maybe. My squadron was within the PRP envelope and was special weapons access privileged, none of which required me to be TS cleared, even though I was required to perform PRP medical surveillance. When the briefings went to TS level in the wardroom, I left the room.

    If you are FS for HMX1, you might need a clearance to TS. I worked with a guy who had that job once.
     
  14. scooter02

    scooter02 MS1
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    So for a Secret clearance, do they even contact/interview you??

    How about all the references that you have to put for everyone you are related to, worked for, lived by, etc?? Not a big deal, I am just wondering if I should give anyone a heads-up.

    I have a USUHS interview coming up and my understanding is that you turn in all the security paperwork and they will process it if you are conditionally accepted, and if it's all good (along with the medical) you will get your unconditional acceptance. How long does the whole process take?

    Has anyone ever been DENIED? for what? Do you just get rejected then? Or can you appeal?

    BTW I am probably the least sketchy person I know... I just want to know a little more about how the process works.
     
  15. NavyFP

    NavyFP Senior Member
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  16. 261390

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    Answer everything honestly... that's the only thing I can tell you from my experience.

    But, if for whatever reason you feel uncomfortable telling them you popped a couple of your mom's vicodins your junior year in high school, you'll typically be okay. As a service member, you are only required to take a counter-terrorism polygraph for a TS/SCI clearance (this is circumstantial, some assignments require a lifestyle poly but those are few and far between).

    If you wish to continue your service beyond your obligation as a civilian within the same agency, you may face a few problems during a lifestyle polygraph; in which case I highly advocate you stay true to what you claimed on your SF86. And in which case, I highly advocate you just be honest from the get go on your paperwork.

    They aren't testing whether or not you are a pot head, but if you have secrets that foreign adversaries can exploit and blackmail you with. That is the general principle. If you let the gov know, then you're in the clear. You can't be blackmailed very easily if your authority is already aware. Therefore you are less inclined to succumb to the threat.

    The FBI does indeed do the background investigations, but they are not the determining organization on whether you receive your clearance or not. They are an indifferent, non-partial investigative authority collecting information only. Last I knew, the clearance was granted by the Central Clearance Facility... which actually burned to the ground on Ft. Meade a couple years ago. The agency at which you'll be working will by the final call on whether or not you can access their facilities/systems/info.
     
  17. scooter02

    scooter02 MS1
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    Thanks for all the info!! Seriously I am probably the most boring person ever... I am not concerned about being considered a security risk at all.

    I just wanted to know if they're just going to run some computer background check or if they are going to interview everyone.... I have not told anyone at work that I am applying to medical school/planning on leaving and I would like to keep it that way until I have an acceptance in hand. So I am not hiding anything from the government, only from my co-workers/boss!! ;)

    Just wanted to know if mysterious people in dark suits and sunglasses were going to show up and talk to my boss... because that would probably raise some questions... :)
     
  18. 261390

    261390 Guest
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    They really just talk to whom you designate on your SF86. I'm sure they probe around, but they are all very basic questions--most of which cover the questions you answered on the SF86.

    Be sure to notify those whom you refer to on your papers. A lot of people can get nervous when men in black flash a badge and start asking questions.
     
  19. Apollyon

    Apollyon Screw the GST
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    OK, here I am necro-bumping, but oh well.

    I had this exact same question, although strictly for curiosity (antithetical to the "need to know" aspect of security).

    Now, I have a few more questions: if one is cleared higher than "secret", can that revert down to secret at a later time, or do you stay at your highest clearance, and keep it unless/until you lose it (and, consequently your commission, job, and, possibly, career)?

    Also, which law covers you after resigning/retiring your commission? I know in the UK it's the "Official Secrets Act" (amended several times). What I mean is, does it have some descriptive name, or is it something banal like "Public Law 92-105" or some such? This law to which I refer means the proscription against disclosing classified material to which one was exposed/aware.

    There is a PA with whom I worked to whom I posited a few questions (he is full-time Army and has been allowed and encouraged by his CO to do external, civilian moonlighting when he's not scheduled for duty on post), and I was careful to not ask anything specific or illegal; however, I don't work there anymore, and don't have access to him. One question was whether he'd seen classified things in the media, and he said, yes, he had, and that he wondered who had disclosed. I don't know what level clearance he has (PA, no prior service, O-3, maybe now O-4, has deployed to Afghanistan).
     
  20. DrMetal

    DrMetal To shred or not shred?
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    If you obtain a TS clearance, that's good for 5 years (Secret is good for 10). Provided that you dont do anything stupid in that 5-year window, they wont take away your clearance. At the end of 5 years, you have to reapply for TS (this is not an automatic thing, you have to actively reapply, get rescreened, reinterviewed, etc). If you fail to reapply or fall short somehow in the rescreening process, then your clearance is reverted back down to Secret.

    I've come to learn that the people who claim to have seen classified things, probably haven't seen anything at all. They get cute, make inuendos about having access, but tell you that they "can't talk about it."

    The people who have the real access to the good stuff don't utter a single word about it. They deny knowing it, they don't make any inuendos, they claim to have seen nothing.

    So, your PA friend might be embelishing. In any case, why is it relevant?
     
  21. AF M4

    AF M4 Junior Member
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    Lol, I saw some stuff man, it'd blow your mind if I could tell you, but I can't 'cause then I'd have to kill you....

    Completely agree with Metal. With over 850,000 people with TS clearances and growing, you can't swing a dead cat around your head on your base without smacking one in the face.

    http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/a-hidden-world-growing-beyond-control/
     
  22. Apollyon

    Apollyon Screw the GST
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    Actually, I drew it out of him, but I didn't ask anything specific - at all. It was like an ESR - totally nonspecific - just "yes or no". There was nothing to embellish.

    I think that many people that have the real access are people we already suspect do - I mean, if someone is an O-5 commanding an SSN or an O-6 boomer CO, or a SpecOps operator, or a missileer, or a covert (not overt) employee of the NSA or CIA, you would expect them to know sensitive information. As such, you don't ask them.

    Now, your relevance question has a DIA/OIG sense to it. It's a human thing called "curiosity". That's why books about security and espionage sell millions, why millions of dollars are spent on movie tickets to see spy films, and TV is inundated at times with them (Covert Affairs, Mission: Impossible, MI:5, She Spies, The Six Million Dollar Man, and so on - more that I can't remember). It's why Valerie Plame was in the news - pretty soccer mom by day, CIA spy by night.

    edit: I went to military college, and had many classmates that went intel or Spec Forces. One guy was SEAL for 7 years, and I ran across him again when he and I were residents in different specialties. He had gone to med school after being a mustang (3 years enlisted before commissioning), and I asked him one day about less than public missions, and he told me that there was "covert" and "clandestine" missions, but his best stories were while drinking.

    As I learned way back when, the best missions are ones about which you never find out anything. Hell, the second guy to die from my class was in an SDT unit, and died in "a training accident". I kid you not. They stuck to that story like glue.
     
    #21 Apollyon, Jan 30, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2011

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