FORT POLK, La. — An award ceremony was held Aug. 7 at the North Fort screening center — a temporary structure established to screen mission essential Soldiers and support staff during Joint Readiness Training Center rotations.A joint team of Soldiers from the 32nd Hospital Center and 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment worked to establish and oversee the first combat training center screening site of its kind to initiate COVID-19 measures and mitigate the dangers of the coronavirus.The screening site’s purpose is to have a central location to check temperatures, ask health and wellness questions and, if necessary, help trace anyone who might show COVID-19 symptoms. That’s possible because common access cards are scanned each time a person goes through the screening site.In recognition of their hard work, Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank presented a Commanding General’s Certificate of Achievement to each Soldier that participated in setting up and running the North Fort screening site. In addition, a few Soldiers were awarded commendation medals.Frank told the Soldiers standing in the socially-distanced formation that they have and will continue to have a huge impact on JRTC and Fort Polk rotations. “We are here today to recognize you for the hard work you did in June.“You performed and processed 23,000 screening checks during the 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade rotation. You have been our front line of defense,” he said.Frank said he knows the Soldiers of the screening staff have a tough job.“The days and nights are long and hot, and the work is hard, but what you do is essential,” he said. “You are an unbelievable staff of exceptional professionals. Whether you are in 32nd HC or Geronimo, you have worked as a team to run this screening site and make sure individuals followed all COVID-19 procedures,” he said.Frank said senior Army leadership was watching the first large-scale collective training event since the COVID-19 pandemic began and couldn’t believe the number of completed screenings when they heard it.“You guys checked out everybody — Geronimo Soldiers, staff, contractors, role players and rotational Soldiers — and you made sure that the rotation went off with no problems. No Soldiers came down with COVID-19 during the rotation. Based on those results, the Army has a lot of confidence in you,” he said.Rotation 20-09 will be even bigger, so the mission isn’t done, said Frank.“With 5,000 Soldiers headed to the box in the next rotation, there’s probably going to be even more work for you to do,” he said.Frank said but having a team of Soldiers that performs screenings in an organized and professional manner has motivated people to come through the health screening station.“That’s pretty amazing and we thank you for your efforts,” he said. “What you do is greatly appreciated,” he said.Staff Sgt. Michael Garcia, 32nd HC clinic operations noncommissioned officer in charge, said he doesn’t think he did anything extraordinary.“We just did our jobs and did them well,” he said.Garcia said JRTC and Fort Polk provided the help and assets needed to get the screening site ready for success.“They made our job easy. The biggest difficulty we faced was the unknown because we’ve never been in a situation like this before,” he said.Garcia said recognition for their hard work by senior leadership is nice.“It makes me feel good. What we are doing here is protecting everyone participating in the rotation from outside influences and giving them the opportunity to do what they are here to do — train and get ready to deploy,” he said.Sgt. Keegan Reeves, 509th Inf Reg line medic and squad leader, said the screening site created a safety bubble to ensure there is no COVID-19 transmission.“We want to make sure everyone is able to conduct rotational training in a safe and healthy environment,” he said.Reeves said thanks to the teamwork between the 32nd Hospital Center and 509th Inf Reg, the screening site has been running smoothly from the beginning.“Before this, I hadn’t worked with the 32 HC very much. They have been a huge benefit to Geronimo. When things got busy and Geronimo needed help, they (32nd Soldiers) would help us out, no questions asked, and we would do the same for them, he said. “Together, we maintained cohesion through the heat and stress, and I think that reflects well on both units,” he said.On a personal level, Reeves said he appreciates being recognized.“It’s nice, and I think I can say that all the other awardees feel the same,” he said. “At the end of the day, being appreciated is what motivates us to work even harder.”Reeves said he is grateful for the opportunity to help. “As medical professionals, we are going to do what we have to do to take care of our Soldiers,” he said.