U.S. Air Force Cpt. Alejandro Bautista readies a COVID-19 vaccination for U.S. Army Sgt Maj. Joseph Fisher at the Camp Smith Training Site Medical Readiness Clinic, N.Y., Dec. 16, 2020. The New York Army National Guard was recently recognized for having the best overall medical readiness for large state forces during fiscal 2021. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Bezares)
U.S. Air Force Cpt. Alejandro Bautista readies a COVID-19 vaccination for U.S. Army Sgt Maj. Joseph Fisher at the Camp Smith Training Site Medical Readiness Clinic, N.Y., Dec. 16, 2020. The New York Army National Guard was recently recognized for having the best overall medical readiness for large state forces during fiscal 2021. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Bezares) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Michael Bezares) VIEW ORIGINAL

LATHAM, N.Y. – The New York Army National Guard has been recognized as the best in medical readiness among large state forces across the National Guard.

Maj. Gen. Jill Faris, the director of the National Guard Bureau’s Office of the Joint Surgeon General, recognized New York’s leadership during the Medical Team Conference at the National Guard Professional Education Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas, April 26.

The Best Overall Medical Readiness Award recognizes the work of leaders up and down the chain of command and medical personnel across the state to make medical readiness a priority for Soldiers in fiscal 2021, said Lt. Col. Luis Garcia, the New York Army National Guard deputy state surgeon.

“It starts with the leadership,” Garcia said. “Nothing comes to fruition without support from the adjutant general down to everyone else in the unit.”

The award is based on 90 percent of New York’s Soldiers falling into medical readiness categories 1 or 2, able to do their missions and deploy, Garcia explained.

This means Soldiers need to have good dental health and be up to date for annual flu shots and other required vaccines.

The effort to get Soldiers vaccinated for COVID-19 was not a part of the award evaluation process for 2021, Garcia said.

New York’s competitors for the award included Texas, California and Illinois, among other states with Army Guard forces exceeding 10,000.

States with smaller forces and those in the middle compete for their medical readiness awards in separate categories.

Data for the awards come from MEDPROS — the Medical Protection System, which the Army uses to track Soldier health.

Making sure Soldiers are medically ready takes a lot of organization and planning, said Maj. Lance Woodward, the operations officer for the state surgeon’s office.

Woodward said the surgeon’s office coordinates with operations and training personnel 18 to 20 months out to ensure that units deploying on federal orders or for training have enough medical readiness weekend opportunities to ensure Soldiers are fit.

Medical Command and unit medical personnel evaluate individual Soldier’s medical records to ensure those who need more time or help to meet medical readiness standards get it, Woodward said.

“We do a great job of communicating with the medical points of contact in each unit to make sure each Soldier is taken care of,” Woodward said.

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