Blood draw as part of PHA Pilot
Spc. James Woodard, team leader with D Company, 2-124th, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, gets blood drawn for screening as part of the pilot Periodic Health Assessment program during the demobilization process.

FORT STEWART, Ga. - The Army has initiated a pilot program intended to improve and transform the way it meets the healthcare needs of Soldiers, ensuring they reach maximum medical readiness to support future deployments.

Soldiers from the first three groups of the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom, were chosen to be part of the new program, which will provide a Periodic Health Assessment during their demobilization at Fort Stewart, Ga. Previously the PHA has been conducted at a unit's home station.

Typically demobilizing Soldiers interact with the medical staff on their medical processing day at the Soldier Readiness Processing site. Primary care providers review the Post-Deployment Health Assessments and refer Soldiers as on a case-by-case basis for other services. The demobilizing Soldiers are then still responsible for completing the annual PHA requirement.

"The Soldiers in the pilot program received their annual PHA during the demobilization process," said Col. Paul R. Cordts, commander/chief executive officer, Winn Army Community Hospital. "For the majority of Soldiers, this consisted of the addition of a few further questions and additional screening of medical records. For those over 40, additional tests, including an electrocardiogram and a cholesterol screening were needed if the last test was done more than five years ago."

"The Army places a high emphasis on the medical readiness of our Soldiers," said Cordts. "Providing the PHA during demobilization process could save time and resources, and allow for a more medically-ready National Guard Force."

Cordts said there would be a formal after-action report documenting the process of the pilot group and that information would be collected and submitted to the Army.

"Our main focus for providing the PHA pilot program during the 53rd IBCT demobilization was to gather data," said Col. Robert A. Warburg, 188th Infantry Brigade commander. "The overall focus for the demobilization remains on meeting our standard of focused Soldier care for all our Citizen-Soldiers."

"Providing a PHA to the groups in the pilot program allowed us to reset those Soldiers and make them eligible for schools and state active-duty missions," said Col. Todd R. Chace, state surgeon, Florida National Guard.

Florida's largest National Guard unit, the 53rd "Gator Brigade," with approximately 2,500 Soldiers, served nine months in Kuwait and Iraq under Operation Iraqi Freedom during the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq. The 188th Infantry Brigade, Winn Army Community Hospital and the demobilization team at Fort Stewart are set to make the 53rd's transition back to the states as seamless as possible.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16