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Physically, mentally fit to fight

Soldiers have their MEDPROS (Medical Protection System) checked to make sure all annual requirements such as Dental, Vision, Periodic Health Assessment, have been meet Oct. 17 at Fort Riley. The military requires Soldiers to receive regular examinations to help prevent sickness and health problems and keep soldiers medically ready for deployments. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jarel Chugg, 19th Public Affairs Attachment)

Story by Spc. Jarel Chugg

19th Public Affairs Detachment

A fighting force is made of individual Soldiers. To keep the force in tip-top shape, the Army invests in the physical and mental health of these individual through medical readiness.

Medical readiness plays a significant role in the overall mission of the Army, giving units with the 1st Infantry Division the advantage over its enemies.

“Having a force that is better trained, equipment that is better maintained, leaders that are able and proven to thrive in complex environments, gives our Army the ability to defeat any threat, even peer-to-peer,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Troyn, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Inf. Div.

Forces that are better taken care of medically thrive and are better equipped to handle the stresses of deployments and prevent injuries and sickness, said Maj. Robin Cushing, physician assistant, HHBN, 1st Inf. Div.

“Medical readiness does a lot of things,” Cushing said. “One, (it) helps prevent illnesses or infections. It’s kind of maintenance on the persons health. For example, the PHA (periodic health assessment) that we do every year. It’s a quick assessment on their health, kind of like if you PMCS (preventive maintenance check and services) a vehicle — we check your cholesterol if you’re over 40, EKG (electrocardiogram) to make sure the heart is still working and everything is good while try to catch anything that could potentially be an injury or illness in the future.”

Every year during flu season, Soldiers are given the flu shot to help prevent sickness within the ranks.

“There is a thing called herd immunization where if we can potentially vaccinate the majority of the population even the ones that don’t get the vaccination will still be protected against influenza,” Cushing said. “Our goal is 100 percent; however, if we get to 85 or 90 percent, those non-vaccinated personnel that are working with those that are vaccinated are still somewhat protected be the ‘herd.’”

Medical readiness is a crucial factor for Soldiers and their commanders, Cushing said. Checking on one’s medical status is done using Medical Protection System (MEDPROS).

“As an individual, you go on to your AKO (Army Knowledge Online) and you can see if you’re green on dental, it means you have had your yearly exam; here they even do a dental cleaning in conjunction with the exam — that is letting us know that there should be no dental (issues) while you’re deployed,” Cushing said. “Same goes with your PHA. If you’re green, it means you have had your annual physical and you are cleared to deploy. It kind of gives a quick glance for commanders on that person’s medical readiness, on if the service member can go down range wear their gear and be healthy. MEDPROS is really a function for commanders and how the commanders can look at their numbers and see how their unit is doing, if their unit is physically and mentally ready to deploy.”

The impact of medical readiness grows beyond just the individual. With 46 percent of the demand for joint forces globally in fiscal year 2017 coming from the Army, it is the Soldier’s duty to protect and secure our nation’s interests, Troyn said.

Maintaining medical readiness is a cornerstone in all that we do, Troyn said.

“Individual Soldiers should understand the impact their ability to deploy or not to deploy has on the Army’s mission to fight across multiple domains and through contested areas – to deter potential adversaries, and should deterrence fail, rapidly defeat them,” Troyn said. “We are a force of approximately 179,500 Soldiers currently supporting combatant commanders in 140 countries. We need everyone on the team ‘Fit and Ready to Fight.’”

According to Cushing, Soldiers should be concerned individually for their health before and after the military because it’s their health and their body; the military isn’t forever, but they are still going to have their bodies.

“Second, for their battle buddies, if you’re down and weak and hurting then someone is going to have to do your job,” Cushing said. “If you are injured or sick and you’re not taking care of yourself, who is covering down for you? Your battle buddies are having to do your job so as a whole, there is individual health, section health and it spreads to company health, battalion, to division, but it starts at the individual and the individual needs to take initiative to make themselves better.”

With all the available resources the military has, Soldiers are given every opportunity to be physically and mentally prepared, Cushing said.

“I feel like it’s important for people to take initiative; there are so many things that the individual can do to stay healthy; we have the Army Wellness center — that has the ‘BOD POD’ to check your body fat — it’s a free service that in the civilian world that can cost $50 to $100 to get that service done,” Cushing said. “There are so many medical problems now that I’m starting to see in the military because of obesity and overweight, so just taking care of yourself in that aspect, eating well not smoking not drinking and having a normal height and weight standard that can decrease so many medical problems.”

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