The Army has approximately 187,000 Soldiers supporting combatant commanders in 140 countries. Army Medicine and Regional Health Command -- Central, in particular, provides medical support to those Soldiers prior to and following their deployments at the Mobilization Force Generation Installation (MFGI) sites at Fort Bliss and Fort Hood.
The MFGI includes a medical screening process that makes sure Soldiers are fit to deploy. Upon return from deployment, it identifies any medical issues that may have occurred during deployment and if necessary provides a Line of Duty determination.
It is a critical Readiness mission that demands careful planning, preparation and execution in order to provide high quality medical care and efficient processing of the approximately 60,000 Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, Army Civilians and Contractors who deploy each year, said Maj. Bradley Johnson, branch chief of reserve affairs at RHC-C.
For the past six months, RHC-C has been carefully examining the overall processes to improve mobilization/demobilization for medical care of Soldiers at these sites. In support of this effort a summit was held last week at ARMEDCOM in Pinellas Park, FL that provided critical information and training to deploying medical units that support the medical mission at MFGIs and provide medical support to the Reserve Component (RC) units in training areas.
The RHC-C Reserve Affairs Branch has taken aggressive action towards process improvement for Soldiers returning from overseas, according Johnson. In collaboration with the RHC-C G3, U.S. Army Medical Command, as well as the Fort Hood and Fort Bliss MFGIs, problems and challenges were identified in May 2017. In less than a week, the team stood up a working group to make recommendations for action.
The working group visited the Fort Bliss and Fort Hood MFGIs to evaluate the current processes and to bring back best practices. After convening for a month, the group agreed upon specific courses of action, according to Johnson.
The working group recommended the following primary improvements:
• Train and validate the Medical Support Unit that will serve as the main medical element prior arrival at the MFGI site,
• Validate the MSUs manning authorizations, and
• Consider using a regional contract instead of a local one for contracting medical personnel support. This will ensure standardization across the Region for MFGI support.
'These improvements are crucial to maintaining our warfighting focus,' said Johnson. 'Our Soldiers have signed a blank check to the American people, payable with their lives and we need to ensure they are taken care of throughout the entire deployment process.'
In addition, the Office of The Surgeon General's (OTSG) G3 has initiated a working group that includes RHC-C and all other regions, to support the mobilization/demobilization process. The team will meet next week in Falls Church at DHHQ to finalize the overall concept to expand MFGI operations if the situation dictates.
In October SFC Andrew Baker, from the RHC-C Reserve Affairs office, travelled to Fort Bliss and worked with a command team returning from deployment, along with the Medical Support Unit and Military Treatment Facility personnel, to establish a clear picture of roles and responsibilities and provide support to re-deploying RC Soldiers.
'RHC-C will continually monitor the quality of medical support and recommend resources to help Soldiers recover and adjust following deployment,' said Johnson. 'There are multiple commands involved in order to support the mobilization/demobilization mission. It requires a team effort to make sure processing goes smoothly, efficiently and meets the needs of the Soldier.'
The Army maintains a high state of readiness to defend our Nation. Since the Army's greatest asset is our people, the finest men and women our great Nation has to offer, we must prevent, identify and treat health problems of deployed Soldiers to optimize their performance, said Johnson.