FORT DRUM, N.Y. (June 14, 2021) -- Fort Drum sustains Soldier readiness by ensuring that the men and women of the 10th Mountain Division (LI) have what they need to train, deploy and fight.
This requires a dedicated team of professionals providing quality service and support to Army families in every aspect of their lives – from health care and education, to recreation, child care and veteran assistance programs.
Lorelei Garrett, spouse of Gen. Michael X. Garrett, commander of U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), spent much of her day seeing how that support system operates during an installation visit June 8.
Col. Robert Heath, Fort Drum Medical Activity commander, provided an overview of the Fort Drum health care model and its partnership with community health care providers during a tour of Guthrie Ambulatory Health Care Clinic.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the pharmacy staff at Guthrie provided curbside prescription pickup for beneficiaries, to minimize the number of people entering the facility. Capt. Wesley Snow, pharmacy services chief, said that they were among the first installation pharmacies to provide this service. Later, they improved upon it with the addition of a new drive-up pharmacy window.
Snow said the average wait time has decreased by four minutes in this high-volume area of the clinic. He noted that roughly 200 vehicles drove through in a seven-hour period yesterday and more than 74,000 prescriptions have been filled since the start of January.
“Another great feature is that we provide two points of contact,” he said. “First, we call the beneficiary and find out if there are any questions about their medication that we can answer. And then when they come to the window, maybe they have forgotten about a side effect or something. Now we’ve got second contact with that patient and we can explain safety information.”
Garrett also learned about ongoing COVID vaccination operations at Guthrie, where more than 12,000 active-duty service members, DoD civilians and beneficiaries have been inoculated. Heath said that 10th Mountain Division (LI) medics have helped a great deal in this operation. He noted that Guthrie also provides vaccinations for people outside the Fort Drum community, such as military personnel in area recruiting stations and military entrance processing stations.
While vaccination is currently not mandatory for service members, it is encouraged. When new personnel are in-processing, Heath said that the newcomer’s briefing includes information about the availability and benefits of receiving the vaccine.
At the School Age Center, Garrett was welcomed by members of the Child and Youth Services team, who were eager to talk about the various youth facilities and programs available. They also discussed some of the challenges of providing services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Col. Jeffery Lucas, Fort Drum garrison commander, said that he was most proud of their efforts to care for children and their professionalism during an uncertain time.
“Before many of our Soldiers see their first-line supervisors, they stop at the child development center to drop off their children with our team,” he said. “This team has not had the opportunity to close for COVID. Every day, they wrestled with all the stresses of the pandemic and handled all the usual challenges of a very challenging job.”
Lucas said that as children transition back from remote learning to in-person classes, the CYS team is there to provide essential after-school programming, which transitions into summer camps and activities.
“These professionals are making sure every single day that our families are taken care of, and our Soldiers can go to work knowing their children are in good hands. And it starts right here.”
Garrett’s tour also included stops at Clark Hall and the Family Resource Center, where she met spouses for an informal roundtable discussion on their experiences as Army families. She said it is one of her priorities to meet with spouses at every installation tour, but sometimes they are not comfortable talking openly about their problems.
“I think we all share the same struggles with kids and schools, spouses and deployments – no matter what rank our Soldier wears,” Garrett said. “So I give them a feedback form if they have any questions they didn’t want to ask. My goal is always to engage with the spouses during a visit.”
She also attended a screening of a 10th Mountain Division documentary with her spouse, Gen. Michael X. Garrett, commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.
This was her first visit to Fort Drum, and Garrett said that she liked what she saw.
“Fort Drum seems like a very close-knit community, and I can see the investment from the leadership and the workforce here makes this a great place to live,” she said.