By Kate AgrestiApril 29, 2010
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - U.S. Army Medical Department Activity and 3-85 Mountain Infantry leadership conducted an Army Medicine Covenant signing ceremony April 13 during a gathering at the Multipurpose Auditorium on Fort Drum.
The event highlighted the Army Medical Department's commitment to providing quality health care to Soldiers and their Families, demonstrating there is no higher priority for the AMEDD than caring for those who have made personal sacrifices in the defense of the nation.
Col. Bertram C. Providence, MEDDAC commander, emphasized the importance of the covenant signing and pledged the MEDDAC and AMEDD's continued commitment to warriors in transition.
"As Soldiers, we live the Soldier's Creed," Providence said. "Within the Soldier's Creed is the Warrior Ethos - one of which includes, 'I will never leave a fallen comrade.' Signing this covenant today is our commitment of that.
"We are here to help you transition and get better," he continued. "We are committed to your welfare and to your Families' welfare as you transition back to a unit assignment as a Soldier or out of the military as a civilian. We are here to help you with that."
After his remarks, Providence was joined by MEDDAC Command Sgt. Maj. Alexis A. King and Lt. Col. Patrick L. Harvey, 3-85 Infantry commander, in the ceremonial signing. At the end of the event, 3-85 Infantry warriors in transition had an opportunity to sign the warrior care covenant poster, which will be framed and placed in Guthrie Clinic.
"This covenant signifies a long-lasting commitment to providing quality care for our warriors and their Families," Harvey said. "We cannot rest on our laurels. We are resolute in our endeavor to improving our systems so that we ultimately provide timely, quality service and do all we can to assist our warriors in transition back to productive military service or successful civilian life."
Many strides have been made in establishing services and support facilities for Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) warriors in transition.
These recent achievements include:
* growing from a one-person (commander only) unit in July 2007, to having 18 hand-selected cadre assigned from the division by Sept. 1, 2007, to more than 90 cadre today;
* hiring more than 50 civilian staff members, bringing the unit military and civilian personnel total to 130;
* going from six case managers in 2008, to 18 today;
* ensuring capability to support from 100 to 320 Soldiers, even reaching a one-time high of 569;
* adding 13 Army Reserve and National Guard cadre and senior leaders to support warriors in transition;
* reducing medical evaluation board times;
* receiving additional funding to ensure support services and infrastructure is available to meet health care and services support needs of warriors in transition; and,
* having Fort Drum establish the Soldier and Family Assistance Center.
In addition, a $103 million multiphase construction project in the Guthrie Clinic Complex area will ensure that warriors in transition are housed in state-of-the-art barracks conveniently located across from Guthrie.
Phase 1 of the construction is scheduled for occupancy in June. It includes two completed company headquarters and a three-story barracks for 144 Soldiers. The barracks are a 1+1 configuration, with private bedrooms and a shared kitchenette and living room. Geothermal sidewalks and an enclosed walkway connecting barracks to the company area will ensure safe travel during inclement weather.
Phase 2, which has recently been awarded, will include a battalion headquarters, possible Soldier and Family Advocacy Center, and additional barracks rooms.
Future phases of construction are still under program development in an effort to most effectively respond to WTU requirements.