By Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth ScottNovember 25, 2018
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- One of the challenges the Army Reserve faces as an essential force-provider is increasing both individual and unit readiness in order to be able to rapidly deploy when the Nation calls. Medical readiness is an essential piece to each Soldier's deployability, and remains a top priority within the Army Reserve.
For Army Reserve Medical Command's Troop Medical Clinics and Medical Support Units, this is a task that closely fits their go-to-war mission, so Maj. Gen. Mary Link, ARMEDCOM commanding general, charged her brigade commanders with creative thinking to train their formations while meeting the needs of the Army Reserve.
"I challenged all of my brigade commanders to try and work with a local military treatment facility or hospital. The Northeast Medical Area Readiness Support Group was one of the brigades that took me up on the challenge, working with Fort Belvoir Community Hospital to see if our formations could provide medical Soldier Readiness Processing services at their facility," said Link.
That partnership created a mission known as Operation Capital Medic.
Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, a Defense Health Agency facility, is an ideal partner for the Medical Support Unit to work with. The facility is northern Virginia's home for world-class military healthcare, providing a state of the art facility for the Army Reserve medical professionals to provide needed services while honing individual and unit skills.
Since the mission's inception, NE-MARSG's 7250th Medical Support Unit, based out of Alexandria, Virginia, has helped more than 1,500 service members to become medically 'green' which certifies them as a deployable asset for the Army to use.
Maj. Ericka Fowlkes, the officer-in-charge for the mission and a member of the 7250th MSU, says the mission is a great fit for their unit and the service members they support.
"Medical readiness is the number one priority in the Army right now. So utilizing this facility, we actually get to hit all the medical services a Soldier needs. This is a one stop shop, and we can get you in and out within two to three hours. You don't have to utilize LHI for two separate appointments for an additional cost. The services we provide here are cost effective and timely," Fowlkes said.
Operation Capital Medic does more than help individual medical readiness for those who receive services, it benefits the ARMEDCOM Soldiers assigned to the mission.
"It allows Soldiers to get real-time work in their specific military occupational specialty. It provides the training piece for providers to work with real patients every quarter. I think the experience is invaluable," said Fowlkes.
A point that Link says is critical for her formations.
"My Soldiers are getting the training they need in order to perform their skillsets, and the unit is refining their process flow, all while building readiness for themselves and for the service members who are getting their PHA's, medical and dental services completed.
"This mission gets them out of their drill hall on a battle assembly weekend, and they come to this incredible facility where they can actually do their missions while improving the medical readiness of fellow service members. They're very excited about it," Link said.
Those receiving the services say they're pleased, too.
"This is probably one of the quickest and most efficient medical [Soldier Readiness Processing's] I've ever been to. The ability to utilize the hospital in its respective areas for immunizations, [Periodic Health Assessments], hearing, vision, HIV blood draw... it made a huge difference on the speed and the convenience of it all," said Capt. Robert Reyes, an officer assigned to 3200th Strategic Intelligence Group.
Reyes heard about the available services through a newsletter distributed by 99th Readiness Division and decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
As with any operation, the 7250th MSU continues to refine its processes and look at ways to better support service members in the future.
"I see this as an important mission that could go further than this region. I think it is kind of complicated to get everything that we need done, so If we can do it during a battle assembly then that is very beneficial," said Staff Sgt. Ashley Squire, the Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of Operation Capital Medic.
Squire said they her unit members look forward to their quarterly mission as opposed to regular battle assembly in the drill hall.
"I love big opportunities, big missions. It's not just personally satisfying but it's satisfying for the Army. It's bigger than myself and that's where most of the gratification comes from. It saves so much time, and helps so many Soldiers," said Squire.
All together more than 75 medical professionals completed another successful iteration of Operation Capital Medic the first weekend in November, assisting approximately 450 Soldiers to become medically deployable within the one weekend of services.
ARMEDCOM's mission is to provide trained, equipped, medically proficient units and Soldiers to meet global requirements across unified land operations. ARMEDCOM is uniquely capable of simultaneously providing military hospital and clinic expansion, augmentation, blood donor services, and dental and veterinary services while remaining postured to rapidly provide assistance to civil authorities during an emergency or disaster.