Commanding General's open letter to families of BCT Soldiers addressing flu concerns
September 14, 2009
To our families of Soldiers in training,
Fort Jackson has an aggressive plan to combat both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu virus, and we are prepared to effectively deal with the upcoming flu season. We have completed detailed planning to limit the impact of any strain of influenza on our entire community; Soldiers, civilian employees, family members and guests.
We are ready to deal with the unique circumstances of Fort Jackson; in that we are ready to protect a daily population of 30,000 including more than 10,000 Soldiers in training and the 800 to 1,000 new Soldiers arriving weekly.
The preventative measures in our plan will reinforce our normal robust sanitation efforts. Strong emphasis is on simple and effective personal hygiene actions such as:
-Proper and frequent hand washing. We are reinforcing that all Soldiers and employees also carry alcohol based hand sanitizers. Hand sanitation stations are readily available across the installation. The installation of hundreds of additional stations in public areas is an ongoing effort.
-Social behaviors and spacing will be adjusted. Hand shaking is discouraged, office spacing will increase, bunks are being moved to maximize space and putting Soldiers in bunks in a heel to toe pattern reduces risks.
-Information and educational efforts are expanding to ensure everyone knows what they can do to limit their exposure to any virus.
-Additional cleaning and disinfectant supplies are on hand with more on the way.
We will track illnesses in our entire population with daily reports. This information will allow us to respond immediately to specific threats. Of course we realize no matter how thorough our preventative measures are, Soldiers will get sick.
In light of that, I assure you that Fort Jackson is prepared to treat any Soldier who gets the flu. Already this year we have treated Soldiers with the flu and we have succeeded in limiting the spread of influenza. We expect to begin immunizations in October, and our new Soldiers will get vaccinations upon arrival. Vaccination teams will go to the Soldiers already here.
We expect to see flu surges from now through March, however, we expect our biggest surge during the first week of January when 10,000 Soldiers return from Victory Block Leave after spending the Holidays with their families. We will medically evaluate all Soldiers upon their return from leave and provide immediate treatment of ill Soldiers to limit the spread. Our plan is in effect now, we are ready.
As this flu season progresses, I am fully confident that our flexible planning efforts can respond to any sudden changes. We will protect Soldiers, family members and civilians who live, work and visit Fort Jackson.
Brig. Gen. Bradley W. May
Fort Jackson, SC