As part of the 44th Medical Brigade, 248th Medical Detachment, Veterinary Service Support, headed over to the Pope Soldier Readiness Center (SRC) July 20 for pre-deployment preparations.

The detachment is not being deployed yet but needs to be ready should the call come.

Soldier readiness has several offshoots for pre-deployment, including financial, personnel and medical.

For medical readiness, the clinic is responsible for screening Soldiers beforehand for immunizations, medications and physical posture, according to SRC physician assistant John Schwarz.

Immunizations are specific to which country the Soldier is being deployed. This prevents contraction of certain communicable diseases. Smallpox and anthrax are common vaccinations for military personnel.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, smallpox was deemed completely eradicated in 1980 by the World Health Assembly. However, the potential threat of the variola virus – the cause of smallpox – being used as a method of bioterrorism still looms. It is therefore necessary that each Soldier be vaccinated for smallpox prior to deployment.

Both smallpox and anthrax are significant threats to this detachment due to its close contact with animals. Animals and livestock have a higher likelihood of contracting anthrax or smallpox spores, according to the CDC.

Licensed practical nurse (LPN) Rochelle Graves immunized Spc. Terrence Gadson, who received both an anthrax and a smallpox injection. She briefed him on what the vaccinations were for, the side effects to expect and how to care for the injection sites.

Staff Sgt. Nelson Cruz said he’s been to the clinic for pre-deployment readiness procedures in the past.

“It’s smooth and fast (rotations),” said Cruz.

Cruz was administered a rabies shot by Nurse Ada Sellers.

According to Schwarz, the rabies shot is rare for Soldiers. However, the veterinarian service support detachment particularly needs it because of the frequent contact with animals.

In total, the SRC hosts 12 stations for all aspects of Soldier readiness. They draw blood from all Soldiers in the detachment for an HIV test, and for future research on exposure to certain regions in the world.

The SRC’s rotations also include tests for pregnancy, hearing and sight.

Prior to traveling, knowing the medications a Soldier needs before deployment is vital because the country might not have the supplies for picking up those medicines or even for refilling. In conjunction with Womack Army Medical Center, the SRC makes sure any and all medications are noted and in stock for deployments.

Physical stamina is another key component of the clinic’s screenings.

“We have to look at their physical conditions and make sure there are no physical aspects that would prevent them from going to the area or the unit they’re assigned to go to,” said Schwarz.

“It’s a readiness posture for looking at Soldiers staying able to do their job fully functioning.”

The SRC also handles post-deployment examinations to screen the Soldiers for physical and mental trauma.

“They come through and get checked to make sure everything is okay, if there are any concerns or issues,” said Schwarz.

“We validate for the Fort Bragg commander to make sure people are able to go and come back.”