By Sgt. 1st Class Mark BellNovember 7, 2012
FORT MEADE, Md. -- "We must get the red out, period."
Those were the simple words from Maj. Gen. Sanford Holman several months ago while talking to his staff about Soldier readiness across a command of more than 14,000 Soldiers in 44 states.
Holman commands the 200th Military Police Command and gave non-waivering guidance that the command headquarters must be green across the board.
"How can I expect our young warfighters down in our companies to have their shots updated, if my staff won't do it," he told the attentive audience of senior officers.
From that point forward, Headquarter and Headquarters Company, led by Capt. Brandon Crawford, has spent the past several months scheduling periodic health assessments on a regular basis here.
He said it's a simple process, yet can be frustrating for some.
"Medical readiness is actually easy for the Soldiers as they're only obligated to stand in line," said Crawford. "The most difficult part is the time it takes Soldiers to complete the soldier readiness process."
Standing in line was the theme of the morning, but Soldiers spent time talking to friends, sharing photos on their smart phones and updating their social media profiles.
"It may be a cultural thing where Americans generally have a lack of patience, so when Soldiers spend a day and half to accomplish two things in order to become medically green, it's frustrating, because now the Soldiers are unable to accomplish leadership tasks as well as other Soldier readiness areas," Crawford said.
Unlike chow hall lines which are traditionally reserved for lower enlisted first, Holman and Command Sgt. Maj. Kurtis Timmer led the charge for the influenza vaccination and other items on their soldier readiness processing check list.
Together with the 400th Military Police Battalion and 372nd Military Police Company, military police took over the small Army Reserve center here and Army training stopped for the morning to take care of Soldiers.
Sgt. 1st Class Fernando Garcia, the medical NCO for the command, said medical readiness is the easiest to fix during battle assembly training but the most difficult to get Soldiers to complete.
"Soldiers hate shots," he said. "It's like any annual holiday, you know when the flu season begins, and it's time to step up to the medic and get the vaccination."
Hundreds of Soldiers stepped up and maneuvered around the building getting EKGs, blood drawn, dental examinations and medical assessments.
"It was a long morning, but I am glad it's over," said Spc. Amanda Knaus, a logistics specialist with the command. "I'm glad I was able to complete my PHA during battle assembly weekend.
Normally, Soldiers are given the opportunity to take care of these types of medical assessments during the normal work week at a nearby doctor's office, but Knaus said it is difficult to get away as a single mother of three children who also works full time as a military technician.
As Soldiers filed through lines that make the local department of motor vehicle look empty, the positive attitude of Soldiers of all ranks made it a better experience for everyone.
"We are professionals," said Timmer. "Today is something we have to do each year and in this command we do it more than once. Medical readiness is vital to the success of our companies, battalions and brigades."
Timmer said to stay ahead of the game you have to plan and plan well.
"It's because of the dedication of our medical personnel within our formations that made today and any other day successful," he said. "We must attack Soldier readiness head on. It's important for the command and should be important for the Soldiers."
With that importance, comes responsibility. Although units report readiness collectively, it is the responsibility of the individual Soldier to track and monitor their own medical readiness, said Garcia.
"Soldiers should regularly go on Army Knowledge Online and look at their medical profile," he said. "The website is very clear about what a Soldier needs and actions needed to correct those deficiencies."
As the last Soldier went through the check out station, 1st Sgt. Larry Roadcap, 200th HHC, checked over the list of Soldiers, made a few notes in his book, and seemed satisfied with the quick inspection of Soldiers who came through the SRP.