The Bayonet

Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014

30th AG helps civilians become Soldiers

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All of the approximate 34,000 initial entry training Soldiers who come to Fort Benning every year to complete basic combat training will inprocess through the 30th Adjutant General Reception Battalion.

"IET Soldiers are at 30th AG for approximately 14 days. During that time they will receive an examination from audiology, dental, optometry, immunizations and blood testing," said Staff. Sgt. Glen Rivera, a processing sergeant for the battalion.

He said Soldiers receive haircuts and uniforms during the first day to get new recruits in the proper frame of mind. Also, within the first few days, Soldiers are issued ID cards and administrative actions, such as SGLI and DEERS, are entered into the Army systems.

"The idea is to get the trainee looking and feeling like a Soldier as soon as possible," Rivera said. "We want to make sure that the Soldier has everything he needs to be successful during basic combat training."

Even before a new recruit enters basic combat training, medical issues that could preclude a smooth transition to BCT are medically addressed.

Fort Benning is the only installation in the Army that provides sick call for trainees at a reception battalion, said Staff Sgt. James Copeland, medical NCOIC, 30th AG. If Soldiers are unable to continue training due to injury and or physical fitness, they are transferred to the battalion's Fitness Training Unit.

"FTU's goal is to rehabilitate Soldiers injured during training to the point that they can (go to or) return to basic training without further injuring themselves," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Wargo, FTU drill sergeant.

The rehabilitation process involves six steps, which progressively reintegrates Soldiers back to training, Wargo said.

"We work closely with the physical therapist and medical personnel to physically train Soldiers within the confines of their profiles," he said.

Wargo said FTU uses pool therapy, gravity assisted running, physical readiness training and various other exercises to ensure Soldiers will be ready to proceed with training.

"If a Soldier has completed all requirements to graduate basic combat training, except for the Army Physical Fitness Test, we will work with certified athletic trainers to physically train the Soldier until he is able to pass the APFT," Wargo said. "The Army has a significant investment in these trainees, anything we can do to return them to training is a win for the Soldier and a win for the Army."

So, what happens if a Soldier is not able to overcome the transition from civilian life to Army life?

"Inevitably some Soldiers are not able to complete basic training," said Staff Sgt. Preston Lewis of the 30th AG Return Home Unit. "RHU helps to process Soldiers back to civilian life. The Army is not for everyone.

"The reasons for discharge range from conditions that existed prior to service to Medical Evaluation Boards. The motto here is the best last impression."

Regardless of the reason a Soldier is discharged, it is important that they leave on a positive note, he said.

"The Soldiers are expected to be productive and use their time wisely," Lewis said. "This will not only increase the chances of them being productive members of society, but is also a good recruitment tool for the Army, as these Soldiers will become a positive ambassador of the Army to their friends."

If a Soldier is being medically discharged from the Army, 1st Sgt. Timathy Bevis, RHU first sergeant, said it's their responsibility to make sure the Soldier gets the medical attention they need.

Trainees who have met the active duty time requirements also have access to the Soldier For Life Transition Assistance Program.

"RHU provides classes that are available to all RHU Soldiers five days a week," said Staff Sgt. Brain Riley, RHU. "Classes offered are: resume writing, dressed for success, interview techniques, basic budgeting, how to conduct a job search, and Army Values."

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