Thursday, October 13, 2011

40,000 Active National Guard and Reservists recovering from wounds

Army wants more Soldiers back on deployable status
October 11, 2011

By Master Sgt. Doug Sample

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 11, 2011) -- Decreasing the number of Soldiers who are medically unfit for deployment has become a major focus of the U.S. Army Medical Command.

It was the topic of discussion by a panel of senior medical officials Monday at the 2011 Association of the United States Army Institute for Land Warfare annual meeting and exposition at the Washington, D.C convention center.

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, who heads MEDCOM and led off the discussion, said that since the drawdown, the Army has seen a growing population of medically "non-ready" Soldiers. Currently the Army's mission readiness stands at just 85 percent according to one of the panelist, while the Guard and Reserve deployability level is much lower at 70 percent.

Schoomaker pointed out that the reserve-component number is actually up 30 percent from three years ago. Nonetheless, these numbers have brought concern, Schoomaker said, adding that having so many Soldiers unfit for duty is beginning to burden unit readiness.

Schoomaker said with the loss of the Army temporary end strength, "We begin to see a growing number of medically non-ready Soldiers with a smaller population of Soldiers overall available for continued demand for deployment."

"Every Soldier that's added to the pool of medically non-ready Soldiers taps into the availability of Soldiers to deploy and be part of the force, and this has begun to erode the readiness of the Army as a whole," Schoomaker said. "Its an issue the leadership of the Army has identified as a major problem for us, and turned to us and the personnel community, and all commanders in the force to come up with a solution."

Maj. Gen. Richard Stone, deputy surgeon general for mobilization, said the Army currently has as many as 40,000 active, Guard and Reserve Soldiers recovering from wounds or transitioning out of the military through Warrior Transition Units across the country.
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