GRAYLING, Mich. – “This is going to sting a bit.”
A nurse prepares to administer an anthrax shot as a fresh-faced Soldier winces in anticipation. The needle plunges in.
“That wasn’t so bad,” she declares.
The Soldier laughs shyly and pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. She looks up at the line forming in the hallway as another Soldier enters, taking his place in the chair next to her.
Welcome to the immunization clinic at a Michigan Army National Guard Soldier Readiness Processing event, held Sept. 9-13 at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, Michigan. It’s day three of the five-day period, which will ultimately see more than 480 Michigan National Guard Soldiers process through a series of stations to ensure items such as finances, legal, security clearances, records, medical status, and family affairs are in order before deployment.
“The SRP makes sure that our Soldiers are ready to go and they don’t have to worry about their medical or administrative requirements,” says Master Sgt. Misty McGinnis, non-commissioned officer-in-charge of operations for the Michigan National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters mobilization readiness office, Lansing, Michigan. “That way, they can concentrate solely on the mission once they head out the door for deployment.”
As any of the Soldiers could attest to, the journey of a deployment begins long before departing U.S. soil. The requirements to ensure physical, mental, and administrative readiness for the task at hand are daunting, regardless of the Soldier’s experience level.
“I think the process is perfectly set up because it helps us recognize what needs to be done or what hasn’t been done before deploying that we might not be aware of,” says Pfc. Adel Kajtazovic, a Soldier with Bravo Company of the 126th Infantry Regiment. “[The staff] has shown us some tips and tricks – things we didn’t know before – so it’s been a good day.”
Kajtazovic is in line next to Pfc. Triston Warwick, also of the 126th Infantry’s B Company.
“The deployment experience is one of the reasons I enlisted,” Warwick says. “I’m actually kind of happy.”
Within months, both will be heading to the Middle East for their first overseas deployment.
In addition to Michigan National Guard chaplains, lawyers, medical providers, and admin specialists, contracted medical professionals assist with additional support to meet the needs of the SRP, offering civilian medical technicians a unique glimpse into the processes and procedures of the U.S. Army.
“This has been a phenomenal event; everything is run beautifully and I couldn’t ask for a better team,” said Michelle Lindemyer, a registered nurse with Logistics Health Incorporated. “I used to take service members for granted; meeting different individuals and realizing what service members do for our country has made me more grateful.”
For Warwick, Kajtazovic, and other deploying members of the 126th Infantry Regiment, this week’s processing fulfils the U.S. Army’s level-one pre-deployment requirement – mandated approximately 180 days from their mobilization date. They will also participate in a level-two SRP that serves as a final readiness check 30-60 days before they ship out.
“Readiness is important to the Army – it’s a measure of how deployable we truly are,” said Capt. Janet Scott, officer-in-charge of the Michigan National Guard JFHQ’s mobilization readiness office. “It comes down to peace of mind for the Soldier, as well as the family around them.”
“The [SRP] process can feel like a tedious place to be, but it’s really that opportunity for us to make sure they’re taken care of to the very best of our ability,” added Scott.
“It’s a one-stop shop.”