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NEWS | Aug. 23, 2023

88th Readiness Division develops event to improve medical readiness

By Christopher Hanson 88th Readiness Division

The 88th Readiness Division has partnered with Army Reserve Medical Command, the Fort McCoy Non-Commissioned Officer Academy and U.S. Army Garrison Fort McCoy to spearhead Operation Enabling Readiness, a medical readiness event at Fort McCoy, Wis. from Aug. 16-25, 2023.

Operation Enabling Readiness features medical providers to conduct vision screenings, audiograms and Physical Health Assessments (PHAs), in order to increase U.S. Army Reserve Soldier medical readiness numbers. The event was developed by planners within the 88th Readiness Division in response to the increasing number of U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers having to wait months for a medical appointment or needing to travel hundreds of miles to see a provider.

The 88th RD Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory Betty stated the timing was perfect with the numerous major exercises underway at Fort McCoy. "We have a captive audience of about 10,000 Soldiers on ground, and when they have some downtime during the exercises they can come out and update their medical readiness quickly and efficiently," Betty said. "Readiness matters and we are here to make sure we are enabling readiness, today and always."

Each Soldier has an individual responsibility to be medically ready to mobilize and deploy.

Maj. Seth Johnson, 88th RD mobilization officer and lead planner for Operation Enabling Readiness, explained the importance of Soldier medical readiness. "The Army has metrics that measure a unit's capability to mobilize and deploy," Johnson said. "Medical readiness is a key part of that assessment and Soldiers need to be medically ready to assist their unit in accomplishing the mission." Those Soldiers who are unable to deploy, negatively impact a unit's effectiveness.

Expectations were high for this year's initial event, with hopes of more than 800 soldiers seen by providers.

"Our end state is to see a noticeable uptick in medical readiness for the units that are participating in current exercises, and also with those local to Fort McCoy," Johnson said. "We hope to get everyone green on their audiograms, PHAs and vision screenings."

The event is a team effort and wouldn't succeed without the support of the numerous medical providers involved.

Sgt. 1st Class Shelia Stennis is a medic at the Fort McCoy NCO-Academy and recognizes the value of providing these services during major exercises. "If we are able to offer this every year during the major exercises, that will allow us to be proactive instead of reactive and help our medical readiness numbers improve to where they need to be," Stennis exclaimed.

Lt. Col. Jason Barber, a physician's assistant with Army Reserve Medical Command said one of the biggest benefits was that soldiers are being taken care of by Soldiers. "I think it's an amazing opportunity, that we are able to as physicians, physicians' assistants and nurse providers that wear the uniform, to be able to take care of our own."

Operation Enabling Readiness runs through Aug. 25 and is held at Buildings 1805 and 1806 at Fort McCoy. Appointments are first-come, first-served.

The 88th Readiness Division covers 19 states, from the Ohio River valley to the Pacific Northwest and provides administrative services and base operations support to more than 53,000 Reserve Soldiers.