News: Units push to reduce non-deployable personnel
Story by Jennifer Andersson
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - During 2012, the medically non-deployable population at Fort Campbell, Ky., has fluctuated within the Division's overall assigned strength, according to medical profile data reported by Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.
To enhance readiness posture and fitness levels, all units must continue to reduce the medically non-deployable population by half, no later than the end of 2013.
In an effort to streamline the process and make as many Soldiers as battle-ready as possible, unit commanders will assist with reviews and revisions of policies, processes and training requirements that have caused the medical non-deployable rate to change.
"[Providers are] ensuring the soldiers are going to physical therapy, assessing the injuries better and teaching Soldiers how to do more preventative measures," said Spc. Josetta Whitney, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Spreadsheets such as personnel readiness reviews help the chain of command track the soldier's medical care. In turn, this will help leaders identify their soldier's strengths and weaknesses and they can capitalize on what works and fix what doesn't.
"If a unit has five non-deployable soldiers holding valid slots, you cannot get five replacements for those Soldiers to deploy with you," said Sgt. 1st Class James Mason, the human resources noncommissioned officer-in-charge with HHC, 3rd Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment.
Instead of just replacing or doing without injured Soldiers, commanders are now focusing more on getting them the medical help they need so they can return to their places of duty.
There is a chain of responsibility that assists in the transition from "non-deployable" to "combat-ready" soldiers. The unit commander will direct the initial phase by identifying soldiers with medical limitations and validating the soldiers' medical readiness. The next link in the chain is the medical provider, who must properly diagnose and refer the soldiers to other health care specialists - if required - to meet the soldiers' needs. Finally, first-line supervisers should direct physical training to the ability of the soldiers permitting them to heal in the most efficient way possible.
"I train them, lead them and show [my soldiers] the right direction," Mason said. "I'm an NCO. It's my job to show them how to get themselves off profile."
Spc. Tasia Eddy, a temporary duty clerk with HHC 3rd Bn., 101st Avn. Rgt., is one of Mason's soldiers. She said Mason knows her well enough that if she were injured for some reason, he would lead physical training in a way that would not violate her medical profile, but she would still get the most from the exercise.
Knowing your soldier is part of being a good NCO, Mason said.
The Army is looking for ways to improve the health of the soldier as well as to improve the effectiveness of the units because the health of the force is the strength of the Army.
Whitney said as soldiers take control of the condition of their own health, they become better soldiers.
"Cutting down on profiles is holding the providers more accountable to make sure the soldiers are getting fixed, rather than just putting them on profile after profile," Whitney said. "They're getting to the root of the problem, correcting it, if possible, and getting them back in the field."