Army Reserve Soldiers possess unique skills and
capabilities that often times are skills that organizations are seeking. The 1st
Command (MSC) understands that it is sometimes difficult
for Soldiers to get real world, hands on training that will help them
stay proficient in
their skills and prepare them for future deployments.
Mortuary Affairs is one of those units that often times
find it challenging to get hands on training with human remains during battle
Working with Veteran Affairs, the 1st MSC was able to create a solution that
would help mitigate
this training obstacle while simultaneously assisting the
VA through a memorandum of agreement. The agreement between the 1st MSC and Department of Veteran
Affairs was signed
on January 14, 2016 by Brig. Gen. Jose R. Burgos, 1st MSC
Commanding General and Mr. Dewayne Hamlin, Veteran Affairs Director.
This agreement formulates a training relationship between
the 246th Quartermaster Company (Mortuary Affairs) and 311th
(Mortuary Affairs) with the Veterans Affairs
Administration in Puerto Rico.
"This is the first memorandum of agreement (MOA)
that we have that provides real-world, hands on training to our mortuary affairs
Burgos. "We are tentatively drafting a MOA with the
Centro Medico Forensic Science Department."
The VA morgue is responsible for the proper processing of
the deceased according to VA policies and regulations and the 1st MSC
has two Reserve
Mortuary Affairs (MA) Companies in Puerto Rico with
experienced personnel trained in morgues outside of Puerto Rico. This training relationship will
be beneficial to both organizations as it gives the MA
Soldiers the opportunity to work with actual human remains while
participating in daily
"I believe that allowing our trained Soldiers to
assist these organizations will be an excellent opportunity for all parties. Our
continue their training in the MA field and provide the
needed help that these organizations need," said Burgos.
The memorandum of agreement clearly states the roles and
responsibilities of each organization.
All Soldiers working at the VA Morgue will have to
comply with all VA training requirements, specific
facility rules, policies and applicable instructions.
"This is a great opportunity for my Soldiers to get
hands on experience," said Capt. Armando L. Pantoja, Commander of the 246th QM
CO (MA). "During
our Annual Training we will work in conjunction with the
VA at their morgue. Working with human remains will allow us to
properly train for any
upcoming deployment missions we may have. We do have
mannequins that we
train with but it is not the most realistic
This memorandum will be reviewed and updated on a yearly
basis. Working closely with the VA in this capacity will also strengthen
the ties between
the 1st MSC, the VA and the community.