Medical Command AT balances mission support, Soldier skills

Soldiers of the Virginia National Guard’s State Medical Command conduct a Medical Readiness Event, or MRE, May 6, 2017, at Fort Pickett, Virginia, during the unit’s two-week annual training. While normally contractor-supported, this small-scale event included dentists, doctors and medical professionals organic to the unit. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Fort Pickett-based Medical Command balanced mission support requirements with improving individual skills during a week of annual training in early May 2017. Because Medical Command Soldiers use part of their AT to help Guard units maintain medical readiness throughout the year, they pack as much as possible into the single week of training.

Soldiers from Medical Command conducted a Field Sanitation Course and certified 37 personnel. The course included both hands-on and classroom instruction, as well as a written exam and a briefing portion. During the course, students learned how to test water quality in a water buffalo or canteen, how to control rodents, read a wet bulb and how to do a tick drag.

“Field Sanitation is vital to the health and well-being of all Soldiers, most importantly when they are in an austere environment,” explained Capt. Shannon Entrekin, commander of the Medical Command’s Headquarters Detachment. “It assists with ensuring water sources are adequate for consumption, trash is disposed of appropriately, and the unit as a whole is in as clean an environment as possible.”

At the same time they were running the Field Sanitation Course, they were also conducting a Medical Readiness Event to conduct periodic health assessments on Soldiers from units across the state. While normally contractor-supported, this small-scale event included dentists, doctors and medical professionals organic to the unit.

“The Medical Readiness Events tell the state the overall health of the Soldiers assigned, and can assist the commanders in knowing who is physically able to complete the unit mission,” Entrekin said.

Soldiers were able to focus on key individual skills like training on Humvee ambulance driving, land navigation, ruck marching and M4 and M9 weapons qualification.

“All of the unit members, especially the medics, are likely to encounter the Humvee ambulance at some point in their career, and it is important for each to know that it handles differently from a standard HMMWV,” Entrekin said. “Land navigation and the 3-mile ruck march are important for the medical Soldiers who wish to compete for the Expert Field Medical Badge. The M4 and M9 are the most common weapons to the medical personnel, familiarization with both is important not only to career development, but to the basic Soldier knowledge base.”

The final event of the week was a staff ride to Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park where they learned about the significance of the battles that occurred there with an emphasis on the medical aspect by a reenactor who was in the uniform of a Civil War physician.

“The Soldiers of Medical Command enjoyed the break from training to learn some of the history of their Army profession,” Entrekin said. “Learning military history can provide Soldiers a greater appreciation for the Army as a whole, and is vital to the breadth of knowledge needed to be a successful NCO or officer. “

Additional reporting by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti


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