FORT MCCOY, Wis. –
Eight U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the Army Reserve Medical Command (AR-MEDCOM) hierarchy took part in Operation Enabling Readiness (OER) here, Aug. 16-25, 2023. Hosted by the 88th Readiness Division as a pilot program, OER is a unity of effort between AR-MEDCOM, Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and Fort McCoy Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security - Mobilization Branch.
The main purpose of OER was to enhance medical readiness in conjunction with large-scale training exercises such as a Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX), as well as react and safeguard against injuries and illness that Soldiers may incur during CSTX. The OER team has provided Periodic Health Assessments (PHAs), audiograms and vision screenings to approximately 1,500 service members participating in CSTX.
"Currently, USARC is having challenges with the changeover from LHI (Logistics Health Incorporated) to QTC (Quality/Timeless/Customer Service) ," said U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Seth Johnson, mobilization officer for the 88th RD, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and lead planner for OER. "QTC's vendor network and facilities do not have the capacity to serve Soldiers in a timely fashion, or Soldiers are having to travel great distances. So that's what inspired this event. The 88th RD is taking the opportunity with the large volume of Soldiers coming here for training to get them through those three events, do a little uptick in medical readiness, and also just help out the Soldiers from difficulties in having to travel long distances."
"In the past, we've had the ability through LHI to do mass medical events and they would bring multiple teams here and do events," said Johnson. "And too previously in exercises, we had the RSOI (Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration) process that Soldiers and units would actually have to come through and they would be screened for their medical readiness requirements and go through anything that they are overdue in or coming due for."
Despite the short suspense of notification, personnel were able to rapidly travel to Fort McCoy to support the mission.
"We heard about this mission about a week prior to being on Fort McCoy," said U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Jason Barber, a physician assistant officer for AR-MEDCOM. "We were all willing, ready and able to fulfill the mission and here we are."
Another benefit of OER is to provide more face-to-face interaction with military providers to better address concerns and issues with service members.
"So post-COVID, we were unable to be in front of Soldiers to provide that PHA," said Barber. "This allows us now to embed ourselves into large-scale exercises where the Reserve force has already spent the money to be here. So for a very small price, we're able to impact greatly on our medical readiness as we go forward in our post-COVID environment."
Overall, the joint collaboration has notably been a worthwhile venture in assessing the capabilities of Active and Reserve Component Soldiers.
"No matter what component and no matter what unit; staff can come together, help each other out, and it will help the Soldiers in the units," Barber said.