By Titus Ledbetter III, Belvoir EagleAugust 15, 2013
Fort Belvoir employees volunteered at Fairfax County's annual back-to-school physicals clinic Aug. 10 to help medical professionals provide mandatory school physicals to underprivileged children.
The military employees supported civilian volunteers who helped administer free examinations and immunizations for uninsured children at the South County Health Center in Alexandria, Va. Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson greeted children and shook hands with them as he toured the Free School Physicals for Uninsured Children event.
"Fort Belvoir is not an entity by itself," Gadson said. "It is part of the community. As such, we should participate and be involved in the community whenever we can."
Children risk missing weeks of school if they do not receive a physical before the academic year begins. Gadson said it was great to see a diverse group of military volunteers and private citizens come out to try to make the community better.
Children received eye exams, hearing tests and immunizations, among other tests, during the event. Dental exams were available for children for the first time this year.
The back-to-school physicals program also took place at a second location, the Springfield Health Department in Springfield, Va.
Created in 2000, the program provides physicals to the children of working parents who either cannot afford medical insurance or have not found a doctor. This year's event was sponsored by the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce and the Fairfax County Health Department. The healthcare personnel who provided the medical service work at INOVA hospital center.
Sgt. 1st Class Ruben Jauregui, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Activities, Headquarters Battalion, Fort Belvoir, chaplain assistant for the Chaplain Directorate, measured the height and weight of the children at the event. He said he enjoyed volunteering.
"It makes me feel proud that I can contribute to the community," Jauregui said. "I'm from Fort Belvoir, and we are pretty close, so it is convenient for us to come out and help the community."
He said it is great that Fort Belvoir employees volunteered because it shows the military is maintaining its relationship with the community.
Representatives from the Partnership for Healthier Kids, an INOVA Health System initiative, helped uninsured families find viable healthcare options at the event. The goal of the initiative is to provide parents with medical care for their children through programs such as Medicaid and Family Access to Medical Insurance Security, which is Virginia's children's health insurance program, said Jill Christiansen, program manager for PHK.
She was impressed with the military volunteerism at the event.
"I think it is a great way for the military to show their support for the community they reside in," Christiansen said. "But it is also very exciting for the kids to see Soldiers in uniform. They are always very sweet with the kids and very engaging with the kids."
The chairperson of the event was Bonnie Lilley, a retired social worker. She helped create the clinic back in 2000. Lilley said this year's event went well, and she felt very fortunate that so many people volunteered to help. The community loves to see the Soldiers come to help out with the event, she said.
Children received bicycle helmets, books and backpacks full of school supplies after the physical.
1st Sgt. Shana Tinsley, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Activities, Headquarters Battalion, Fort Belvoir, helped escort children and their Families to various stations within the clinic. Her daughter, Dejah, 11, volunteered to give books to children at the event.
Tinsley said the event was well-organized and provided tremendous opportunities to the community.
"I think this is a good military community and it is also good when the command comes out to support events like this because the community helps the Soldiers, so this is a way to give back," she said.