Photos and Story by Capt. Stephanie Fields
[caption id="attachment_1924" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Ms. Monique Carter, administrative assistant for the the Bluegrass Army Depot Satellite Medical Clinic, works with a Soldier at the newly opened facility."]
Frankfort, Ky. (June 28, 2010) – The Kentucky National Guard is answering the call to provide better support for its wounded warriors, thanks to the newly established Satellite Medical Clinic located at the Richmond Bluegrass Army Depot.
The need for the clinic is apparent. Since September 11, 2001, approximately 40% of the nation’s Guard and Reserve force has been called up to support Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Of those soldiers over 50% are on their second and even third tours.
[caption id="attachment_1929" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="MAJ Kevin Pettus, the full time Kentucky Guard Medical Provider for the the Bluegrass Army Depot Satellite Medical Clinic, assists a Soldier at the newly opened facility."]
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has been labeled the “signature injury” of this war due to the high number of soldiers being involved in IED explosions. In 2009, the Department of Defense and Veteran’s Administration had a joint summit where the following information was revealed – as many as 360,000 troops are affected with TBI. Of those troops 27% suffered with post-deployment mental health problems, 18% with alcohol abuse and 13% with anxiety.
Kentucky Soldiers are not immune to these statistics. In the fiscal year of 2009, the Kentucky National Guard medically separated over 60 Soldiers. Over the last three years the Kentucky National Guard Office of Health Services has assisted in obtaining pre-authorizations for care over $1,792,240.89 secondary to line of duty-related medical injuries both combat and non-combat related.
“We are unique in our approach to caring for wounded warriors,” said Maj. Kevin Pettus, the full-time physician who runs the new medical clinic. “With the influx of injuries from both Afghanistan and Iraq it is not uncommon for military treatment facilities to be overwhelmed. It used to take a Kentucky Guardsman a minimum of a year to complete a medical evaluation due to the backlog of cases. It was not uncommon for a Soldier to be in a medical process for more than two years.”
That situation has changed. The new clinic opened its doors last February, the result of a partnership between the Kentucky Guard and Ireland Army Hospital at Fort Knox. The results, says Pettus, speak for themselves.
“With assistance from Ireland Hospital we have reduced medical evaluation process to approximately 120 days for most soldiers. This is a huge step forward in terms of relieving stress on our troops and their families.”
“Most significant,” Pettus says, “we are able to refer most of our soldiers to the local economy, which gives us a much broader selection of providers.”
Pettus is supported by Monique Carter, a contracted administrative assistant and additional support staff provided by Ireland Army Hospital. J1- Health services provides all administrative needs and funding for the clinic.
“We are very proud of our staff and the proactive initiatives we’ve undertaken to help their fellow Guardsman,” said Pettus. “This is just one of many ways that the Kentucky Guard serves our Soldiers and their families.”