News: Reducing medical non-deploying soldiers help conserve fighting strength
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Florence
ATLANTA - When soldiers become medically non-deployable it is in the Army’s best interest to get them back in the fight or separate them from service with all the entitlements benefits they deserve.
Soldier’s become non-deployable for a number of reasons; challenges for commanders are the three different regulations that dictate putting a soldier in a non-deployable status.
The first is Army Regulation 220-1, Unit Status Report. This report states whether a unit member is available or not for deployment.
Army Regulation 40-501 Standards of Medical Fitness, this regulation deals with soldiers fitness and has medical classifications to determine if the soldier is or is not medically fit for deployment.
The Personnel Policy Guidance also looks at soldiers deployability. Within the PPG is a section that determines a soldier’s dental and medical fitness as it pertains to medical deployablity.
These three different filters can cause confusion for a commander when trying to get a quantitative number to show what soldiers are not medically deployable for each one of their missions.
FORSCOM Command Surgeon, Col. Brian C. Lein went on to say that currently commanders are still feeling frustrated with the speed of the system.
“Commanders want to take care of their soldiers and they want to make sure they get the care they need but they are also under the requirement s of having a trained and ready force to go down range and fight. As long as a medically non-deployable soldier is still in the unit, they can’t train with the unit, they are not going to fight with the unit and a replacement can’t be requested to bring the unit up to full proficiency and this is one of the biggest frustrations for the commander," said Lein.
To alleviate this confusion and frustration, Lein explained how the Army is trying to streamline all this information into one document making Army standards that explain, “Ready equals available, equals deployable." Lein also said this will happen so that you don’t have a soldier with a medical condition that has been validated by the Physical Evaluation Board that’s say yes you are OK to stay in the Army but you can’t deploy anywhere."
The Medical Evaluation Board determines if you are fit or unfit for duty at the local installation facility medical evaluation board by physicians that have input into a soldier’s medical care and use AR 40-501 chapter three to determine medical fitness. This determination then gets forwarded to the PEB. The PEB then agrees or disagrees with the MEB evaluation. The MEB together with the Department of Veterans Affairs determine a soldier’s level of disability.
The program that will combine the MEB findings and the VA disability rating is called the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. To streamline the process the Army will deploy IDES to all its military treatment facilities by the end of the fiscal year.
Another change that has been helping soldiers stay on duty is the change from the MOS Medical Retention Board to the new system, MOS Administrative Retention Review.
The MAR2 provides Commanders a process to identify soldiers who have medical limitations and require an administrative review to determine if the soldier meets his/her MOS standards. This will enhance the Army’s ability to maintain a quality force by ensuring soldiers are physically qualified to perform their PMOS in a worldwide deployed environment or field condition.
For tracking and reporting purposes, MAR2 utilizes an automated workflow process within MEDPROS to track a soldier’s status from start to end.
Liens advice to non-commissioned officers and soldiers they train “would be to monitor and track their medical readiness, they should be logging into MEDPROS and checking the status of their dental and medical classification, making sure they are up to date on shots along with eye and audio exams” and don’t miss a doctor’s appointment “along with attending yearly dental and medical evaluations."
Lein added that if this is done, medical non-deployable soldiers would roughly be reduced by 50 percent.
For more information on the 2011 Army Posture Statement, Non-Deployable Campaign please follow this link: http://go.usa.gov/juH