What is it? The rigors of modern combat demand that Soldiers are physically and emotionally prepared for the stress of combat operations in austere environments. Medical and dental readiness are important components of overall preparation of Soldiers and units for deployment. The Army requires well-trained and well-equipped combat medics and healthcare providers to sustain the Soldier during deployment and to restore the Soldier to combat readiness or the maximum state of health possible by modern medicine. This includes periodic dental and health assessments, timely clinical treatment, and behavioral health screening and treatment to cope with the stresses of combat deployments.
What has the Army done? The Army conducts pre-deployment health assessments on every deploying Soldier in addition to annual dental examinations and periodic health assessments. More than 25,000 Soldiers have been evacuated from the Central Commander Theater of Operations since October 2001. Nearly 90 percent of battlefield casualties survive their wounds due to a combination of improved Soldier protective equipment, advanced tourniquets and blood-clotting bandages, Emergency Medical Technician (Basic) certified combat medics, a rapid aeromedical evacuation system, and far-forward resuscitative surgical care. More than 27,000 Soldiers have been held over in active duty status to complete medical care and determine their fitness for continued service. Approximately 65 percent of these Soldiers are returned to full duty in both the Active and Reserve components.
What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army Medical Department is working closely with the Army, Navy, and Air Force to improve Individual Medical and Dental Readiness reporting. The Medical Protection System contains every Soldier's available medical and dental information and is accessible commanders down to Company level. Unit Status Reporting is being revised to include a broader measure of medical and dental readiness. The Joint Theater Trauma Registry provides clinical information on casualties that is being merged with data from Program Executive Offices Soldier Equipment to improve Soldier protective equipment. During 2006, the Army will open Medical Simulation Training Centers at 17 installations to sustain Combat Medic skills and to teach combat lessons learned using patient simulators and updated Tactical Combat Casualty Care doctrine. In January 2006, the Army will fully implement a post-deployment health reassessment 90 to 180-days after Soldiers return from deployment to assess physical and mental well-being.
Why is this important to the Army? Soldiers are the centerpiece of Army combat formations. Medical and dental readiness are important factors in allowing Soldiers to function effectively on the modern battlefield. Army Medicine allows Soldiers to remain in the fight and maximizes the ability of the Army to retain trained and experienced Soldiers if they become ill or injured. Decreased mobilization timelines required for Army forces reduces the time available for medical and dental screening before deployment. Therefore, commanders must have tools to monitor medical and dental readiness and a robust, responsive medical system that can provide required care quickly. Once deployed, essential medical and dental care far forward on the battlefield allows the Army to sustain Soldier readiness and to quickly return the ill or injured Soldier to duty. When Soldiers cannot be returned to duty quickly, they are evacuated to an appropriate level of care with the goal of returning them to the highest level of medical or dental readiness possible.