By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor
The health care that Soldiers get upon separation from military
service is of the utmost importance as demonstrated by a visit to the Fort McCoy Soldier Readiness Center from Geoff Bestor, the Democratic (Majority) Staff Director of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
HVAC Democratic (Majority) Staff Director of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Geoff
Bestor addresses demobilizing personnel from the 325th Combat
Support Hospital as Maj. Gen. David Blackledge observes. (Photo
by Sgt. 1st Class Carl Childs )
Bestor came from his Washington, D.C. office and was
accompanied by Maj. Gen. David Blackledge, assistant deputy chief of
staff for mobilization and reserve affairs, and Lt. Col. Richard Root,
U.S. Army legislative liaison.
The trio were briefed by Maj. Mary Tomko, SRC
officer-in-charge, visited with demobilizing Soldiers from the 325th
Combat Support Hospital (CSH) and talked with Garrison Commander Col.
David Chesser and Deputy for Mobilization Col. Bas Oskam.
Bestor came to Fort McCoy specifically because the 325th CSH is
one of several demobilizing units in a VA test program.
Bestor observed the demob process at Fort McCoy to help address
his concern about the Department of Defense Form 214 (DD 214) serving
as the primary documentation of military service. That piece of paper,
and more recently that form also on Army and VA computer files, is the
single most important document a military servicemember receives upon
separation from service, Bestor said. It is explicitly required for
registration for benefits through the VA. Getting that information
transferred to the VA is one of Bestor's priorities.
Parallel -- along with the DD 214 --
is the medical information documentation process for Soldiers.
According to Root, "Mr. Bestor articulated at the
conclusion of the visit that it was a good dialogue and discussion on
This provided him with insights to the challenges of the
Root also said they saw the post-mobilization care for Soldiers
and how the VA is an interactive part of the demobilization process.
Integral to that is reserve-component Soldiers receive support
from the Army and VA, with the Soldiers' first visit to the VA
occurring within 120 days of demobilization.
Fort McCoy Mobilization Operations NCOIC Sgt. 1st Class Carl
Childs said after the VA representative's visit, "The VA doesn't
want to miss anybody needing information or assistance."
Childs also noted Bestor's desire to have VA personnel check in
with units and individual members of every branch of military service
following separation from active duty and also that individuals
immediately register with their local county veterans service officer.
"It's all about taking care of Soldiers."
(Michele is a public affairs specialist for
Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base