CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. – Members of the Indiana Army National Guard, 81st Troop Command met with retired Gen. Freddy Franks and his staff in Washington D.C. and the Pentagon, June 14-18, to brief Indiana’s medical board process.
Currently, the Indiana Army National Guard is conducting a pilot program in conjunction with Ft. Knox, Ky., at the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., to reduce the cycle time for Soldiers to process through the medical board process.
This new program is streamlining the way Soldiers are medically processed, saving time and money.
When Soldiers have health issues, whether they are physical or behavioral, sustained from training, combat or by accident, they need to be pushed through a medical board to determine their state of health. Soldiers will then either be deemed fit for duty or pushed through a board to determine if separation from the Army is necessary and in some cases to see if the Soldier is eligible for disability compensation.
This process, called the Medical Evaluation Board and Physical Evaluation Board, can be a lengthy, expensive and especially for the Soldier, a frustrating process.
“In the Reserve Components there’s a back log of about 15,000 Soldiers that need to complete the MEB process,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey J. Webb, Indiana National Guard State Personnel Office Medical Branch Chief. “We’re trying to find an effective way to expedite the process.”
Indiana Army National Guard Deputy State Surgeon Capt. Christopher M. Williams, said this process can take more than a year to complete and cost approximately $270 a day. The pilot program currently being run at Camp Atterbury takes an average of 90 days and costs approximately $70 per Soldier to complete the entire process.
“We’ve come up with a program to take the Soldiers, treat them with dignity and get them processed,” said Williams. “We make a very strong effort to give these Soldiers the attention they need.”
Webb agreed, adding that it’s about the Soldiers and strengthening the force through medical readiness.
“It’s about taking care of the Soldiers,” said Webb. “We have an ethical responsibility to help them get through the process quickly and not leave them in limbo.”
If approved, the Army may fund three to five installations with this new pilot program. After carefully evaluating the success of these programs, the Army may copy and implement it or adapt it to better fit the Army’s needs.
If the pilot programs work as planned, the Army may implement and fund them on all three fronts, active duty, Reserves and National Guard.
The program is currently run through state funding in Indiana, but if nationally implemented, the Army will pick up the bill, freeing up approximately $750,000 a year for the Indiana National Guard to spend in other programs for Soldiers.
“It’s not just a win, win situation here,” said Williams. “It’s a win, win, win. It’s a win for the Army, a win for the National Guard and a win for the Reserves. It all comes down to the Soldier.
“It’s been amazing to see the 81st Troop Command, the [State Personnel Office] and the State Surgeon come together and help come up with this process to really take care of our Indiana Soldiers,” said Williams.