|Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
Soldiers still have a lot of important work to do during
their last days of active-duty mobilization service as they transition
to civilian life.
A five-day demobilization process at Fort McCoy facilitates that
activity for Soldiers returning from a year of duty in either Operation
New Dawn or Operation Enduring Freedom.
Staff Sgt. Corey Boulton assists
1092nd Engineer Battalion Support Company Soldiers with filling
out health-care forms at the Fort McCoy Soldier Readiness Center
(SRC). Boulton, with the SRC Medical Section, was one of several
dozen administration support personnel helping the 1092nd with
demobilization process tasks.
Col. Scott McFarlane, garrison deputy commander for mobilization,
said the demobilization process actually begins as much as a month or
two prior to the unit returning to the United States, mostly getting
personnel records up to date.
“We use an Operations Plan developed here at Fort McCoy that has been
adopted by First Army as a model for other installations to use. The
Fort McCoy Demobilization Operations Plan clearly outlines what the unit
is responsible for and for them to meet our process timeline. Many
records are automated and sent to us electronically. That makes life
easier when they arrive here. Demobilization certifies, documents and
qualifies the Soldier for a lifetime of benefits,” McFarlane said.
McFarlane said that signed certification is documented on the Department
of Defense (DD) Form 214.
“That is the most important document a military servicemember gets upon
separation from active duty and carries with them for the rest of their
lives,” he said. “The DD 214 is what is absolutely required for a
servicemember to present when they register with the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) to obtain medical care and several types of
financial loans, mostly home loans.”
The critical information on the DD 214 includes the date Soldiers
entered service for the mobilization period, date separated from
service, dates the Soldier served overseas and what country they served
This information tells the processor what awards the Soldier is
“The VA can’t help someone if they don’t have a DD 214,” McFarlane said.
“If it doesn’t exist, there is a lot of grief later down the road.”
Soldiers complete some of their initial paperwork when they are
mobilizing to deploy to a theater of operations and complete their
paperwork when they are demobilizing at the Soldier Readiness Center
“We have a lot of friendly and professional people at the SRC to assist
the Soldiers with the documentation process, both mobilization and
demobilization,” McFarlane said.
Extra assistance was provided for the 81st Brigade Combat Team (BCT)
when it demobilized in September 2009. The state of Washington
Department of Veterans Affairs sent about 30 people to Fort McCoy to
provide information to Soldiers about state benefits, particularly VA
benefits, along with employment services and several organizations
providing resources to veterans.
The state of Wisconsin duplicated that effort when the 32nd BCT returned
in February 2010.
Karen Elsing, SRC supervisor, said briefings conducted at the SRC
include presentations by VA representatives. Representatives from the
Tomah VA Medical Center assist Soldiers in filling out the 10-10EZ form
to get Soldiers enrolled into the VA system. Federal and state VA
representatives explain VA benefits.
Other briefings include Army Career Alumni Program, Military Family Life
Consultant, religious services, legal, TRICARE, sexual assault, and
finance. Soldiers also get a tuberculosis test, reissue of computer
access cards, and screenings for behavioral health, medical, dental and
Soldiers receive a TA-180 card to identify them for health benefits
available for 180 days after separation from active duty. Line-of-duty
reports are written for Soldiers who have any sort of injury, and are
used for medical reporting and to approve a Soldier to receive medical
care for that injury.
Completing the DD 214 is the last task a Soldier performs during
demobilization. Once the Soldier receives the DD 214 and their return
from active-duty orders, they have completed the demobilization process
and are released to their unit for travel to their home station and
final release to their civilian life.