The U.S. Army Medical Department Activity (MEDDAC) for Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield celebrated Tuesday the opening of its new Medical Evaluation Center with an open house.
“We’re really excited about having everything located in one location for the soldiers,” said Jennifer Gerald, chief of patient affairs. “Twenty-two of our 27 (physical evaluation board liaison officers) are located in this building.”
The Medical Evaluation Center, located at 229 West General Screven Way in Hinesville, assists soldiers going through the medical evaluation board process, Gerald explained. She said soldiers are referred to a medical evaluation board when their primary care manager determines they no longer meet the physical fitness requirements to remain on active duty.
Gerald, chief of patient administration Maj. Davina Robinson and Winn Army Community Hospital and Stewart-Hunter MEDDAC commander Col. Ron Place conducted a tour of the new facility for special guests, including Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams and Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas.
As he was led from room to room, Abrams talked with counselors and support specialists. He stopped in one office to talk with Spc. Patrick Gray, a soldier assigned to the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team who is currently going through the medical evaluation board process.
“He asked me what I’ve done to prepare for when I leave the Army,” Gray said. “He offered to help me wherever he could but explained there really wasn’t anything he could do to speed up the process.”
Gray said he told his division commander he wants to be a veterinarian and plans to go to Louisiana State University.
Yolanda Dixon, military service coordinator with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs whose office is located at the center, said the process is currently taking 45 to 50 days for most soldiers. She said the process is simpler now that the VA does all the disability rating, instead of one by the Army followed by another by the VA several months later.
“This way the soldier starts getting a check much sooner,” she said. “It’s a much more streamlined process now. It’s a great program. I really believe in it.”