JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - On Dec. 6, Public Health Activity-Fort Lewis held a training event and performed annual surveillance inspections on meals-ready-to-eat in an interactive environment as part of their food inspection mission.

Public health personnel are most often thought of as ambassadors of veterinary services, but they are also responsible for public health concepts which are central to the health and functionality of the Army. Dedicated soldiers and civilians within PHA-FL enhance readiness by providing public health services to prevent animal, food, environmental, occupational and disease threats.

"PHA-Ft. Lewis is responsible for public health activities in Oregon, Washington State and Alaska," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shawn Gunn, inspection team OIC. "We provide food inspection support, food establishment audits and inspections on military bases within our area of responsibility."

The team coordinated the inspection of 1,440 MREs worth over $14,000. The taste, smell and visual inspection impacts over 34,000 MREs, with an approximate value of $3 million.

"We know the importance of our work during these inspections," said Sgt. Eric Blackwell, inspection team NCOIC. "The lots being inspected are part of the stock issued to any unit on Fort Lewis, therefore the entire installation is affected by the success of this inspection."

PHA-FL's approach to this training event was unique. As Gunn noted, it was an opportunity to perform a large, active MRE inspection, where participants from other military service public health branches were invited. The event was a formal military inspection but in a casual environment to build esprit-de-corps among the participants.

Soldiers assigned to PHA-FL, the 218th Veterinary Detachment at Fort Lewis and PHA-FL civilian personnel participated in the day's activities.

"MRE inspections are performed in order to ensure the MREs being issued to soldiers during field exercises are within Army standards for quality and safety," said Blackwell.

Spc. Matthew Reynolds and Pfc. Jamall Kennedy, both assigned to PHA-FL, led the group through the inspection process. Reynolds and Kennedy were chosen to lead the inspection and training because of their demonstrated leadership potential.

"Spc. Reynolds and Pfc. Kennedy were asked to lead this training because they are outstanding soldiers, committed to being the best," said Gunn. "This opportunity was an acknowledgement of their performance."

PHA-FL, a member of the Regional Health Command-Pacific family, is one of the subordinate commands assigned to the Public Health Command-Pacific. In line with the Region's mission, PHC-P and its subordinate commands are continuously shaping, influencing and working towards a global community of health.