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Keeping Indiana Ready


Soldier readiness encompasses more than just having bags packed and proficiency in appropriate skill sets common to all Soldiers and military occupational specialties. It also includes health. Every year Soldiers are required to complete Periodic Health Assessments to ensure that individual Soldiers are ready for deployment.

In addition to these PHAs, officers and pilots require more thorough exams. The PHAs have two components; the first phase is an online questionnaire, the second is the medical evaluation itself.

Staff Sgt. John Pitz, of Greenwood, Ind., with the Indiana Medical Detachment, draws blood from Master Sgt. Ronald Greathouse, of Columbus Ind., Camp Atterbury fire chief, during his annual Periodic Health Assessment at the Physical Examination Center located at the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center Troop Medical Clinic, near Edinburgh, Ind. Photo: Staff Sgt. David Bruce, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs
On any given Thursday at the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center Troop Medical Clinic, Soldiers can receive the medical evaluation, according to Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Richards, of Mooresville, Ind., 38th Infantry Division senior medical readiness noncommissioned officer.

"The process takes four or five hours when performed at the Physical Examination Center," said Richards. "It would take all day if we did this at an armory. The examinations include a pregnancy test for females, hearing test, routine adult immunizations, vitals, vision exam, dental exam, lab work, electrocardiogram and screening by a doctor. We also have case managers for medical issues like profiles and behavioral health providers."

Richards said there is an Army mandate to maintain medical readiness. With approximately 12,000 Soldiers in the Indiana Army National Guard, tracking which Soldiers need to perform the PHA can be daunting in theory, but Richards said that was not the case.

"Actually, it's not difficult to track this information because of Medpros," he said. "The difficult part is getting the Soldiers here for the physicals."

Spc. Jason Stinson, of Muncie, Ind., with 1019th Engineer Detachment, Camp Atterbury Fire Department, places headphones as he prepares to take a hearing test that is part of his annual Periodic health Assessment at the Physical Examination Center. Photo: Staff Sgt. David Bruce, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs)

Medpros is the Army's database used to track and update the Soldiers' physical readiness, said Richards. Should a Soldier not have a current PHA, they get designated as Medical Readiness Category 4, said Richards.

"MRC4 means that the Soldier has let his or her medical readiness lapse. Right now approximately 7 percent of the force is MRC4. We want to get the state below 5 percent and the Thursday event helps us get those Soldiers current," he said.

The PEC provides other services in addition to the PHAs, said Lt. Col. Scott Hopkins, of Bloomington, Ind., Physical Examination Center officer and deputy state surgeon. "We do a lot of different physicals here," said Hopkins. "In addition to the PHAs, we do physicals for Soldiers going into the Active Guard Reserve program, school, chapter 2 physicals for commissioning programs, profile examinations and retention physicals. On Wednesdays, we run a flight clinic for all pilots in the state."

Hopkins said PEC typically sees approximately 40 Soldiers for PHAs on Thursdays and 10 to 20 flight physicals on Wednesdays. Hopkins said the central location of Camp Atterbury is ideal for this activity.

"Geographically, Camp Atterbury is south of central Indiana and works out well. They have a great infrastructure and staff to assist our activity. It is better that we're here than any other place in the state."

Soldiers wait to be screened by doctors as part of their Periodic Health Assessments at the Physical Exmination Center. Photo: Staff Sgt. David Bruce, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs

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