Sailors Become Soldiers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC San Diego
    Individual Augmentee gets a blood pressure check as part of pre-deployment screening at Branch Medical Clinic San Diego

     At first glance, they look like members of the Army. Look a little closer at the green fatigues and you'll a little blue, though, navy blue.

    The Army is relying on an increasing number of both active-duty and reserve sailors to fill key positions on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq. They're called Individual Augmentees (IA), and two small centers on Naval Base San Diego are playing a big part in getting them ready to deploy.  

    Sailors Become Soldiers

    [DGO] Sailors Become Soldiers
    Look a little closer at the green fatigues and you'll a little blue, though, navy blue

    That journey begins with a visit to the doctor's office.

    "We want to make sure they are physically and mentally ready for any type of deployment," said Yves Nepomuceno, the senior medical officer of Branch Medical Clinic San Diego (BMCSD). 

    IA's line clinic hallways waiting to have everything from their teeth to their blood pressure checked. Then there are the shots.  Nepomuceno said immunizations are critical for anyone heading into combat.

    "We do not want anyone spreading disease to other countries, and when they are returning, we want to make sure they are coming back screened for these types of conditions so they are not spreading it to the community,"  Nepomuceno said.

    BMCSD is working with the Navy Mobilization Processing Site (NMPS) to create a temporary command for IAs.  The home-away-from-from approach helps ease some of the stress for sailors trying to adjust to being away from their homeport.

    "They don't know each other, they haven't trained together, they're coming from all over the Navy" said Sr. Chief Petty Officer Rafael Rodriguez, who said that creating a sense of security keeps IAs more focused on the fight ahead. "We're bringing them together. Here's where they get a chance to meet each other, get screened, And from here when they get to the Army training sites, that's when they start to bond." 

    It's a whirlwind process for the IAs, who are on a tight timeline to get outfitted for new gear while completing all their pre-deployment paperwork. They get to San Diego on a Monday and five days later, they hop a plane to their next destination.

    More than 3,500 IAs are expected to go through the clinic and processing site this year.