Asked to review the Armys compliance with its guidance, GAO examined the extent to which the Army is (1) adhering to its medical and deployment requirements regarding decisions to send soldiers with medical conditions to Iraq and Afghanistan, and (2) deploying soldiers with medical conditions requiring duty limitations, and assigning them to duties suitable for their limitations.GAO reviewed Army guidance, and medical records for those preparing to deploy between April 2006 and March 2007; interviewed Army officials and commanders at Forts Benning, Stewart, and Drum, selected for their high deployment rates; and surveyed deployed soldiers with medical limitations.
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Please E-mail your comments regarding the contents or accessibility features of this document to [email protected] It may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO.Commanders must then determine proper duty assignments based on soldiers profile and commanders staffing needs.From a random projectable sample, GAO estimates that 3 percent of soldiers from Forts Benning, Stewart, and Drum who had designations of 3 did not receive required board evaluations prior to being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan for the period studied.What GAO Recommends: The Army needs to take specific measures, such as developing an enforcement mechanism to ensure timely performance of medical board evaluations and enhancing soldiers and their families access to an ombudsman, to help safeguard soldiers with medical conditions from being deployed and assigned to duties unsuitable to their medical limitations. [End of section] Contents: Letter: Results in Brief: Background: Army Is Not Meeting All Requirements for Deploying Soldiers with Medical Conditions and Has Unresolved Problems with Medical Record Keeping: Army Requirements for Deploying Soldiers with Medical Conditions Are Not Always Being Met: Soldiers' Medical Records Are Not Always Complete and Do Not Always Retain Profiles, and Numerical Designations Are Not Consistently Determined: One In 10 Soldiers in the Projectable Sample Who Has a Medical Condition Has Deployed, but We Were Unable to Determine Duty Suitability: Some Deploying Soldiers Have Medical Conditions: Extent to Which Commanders Assigned Soldiers to Duties Suitable to Their Medical Conditions Cannot Be Determined: Conclusions: Recommendations for Executive Action: Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: Appendix II: Army Physical Profile (DA Form 3349): Appendix III: PULHES Definitions: Appendix IV: Army Physical Profile Codes: Appendix V: Department of Defense Pre-Deployment Health Assessment (DD Form 2795): Appendix VI: Comments from the Department of Defense: Appendix VII: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: Related GAO Products: Tables: Table 1: Number of Soldiers in the Sample with Permanent Physical Profile Designations of 3 Who Did Not Receive Pre-Deployment Evaluation by MMRB or MEB: Table 2: Numbers and Percentages of Medical Conditions That May Require Significant Duty Limitations, by Physical Profile Category, across Profiles of Deployed Soldiers in the Sample: Table 3: Soldier Sample Universe, Target Sample Sizes, and Number of Records Reviewed at Each Visited Installation: Figures: Figure 1: Estimated Percentage of Soldiers with Physical Profile Designations of Permanent 3 Who Deployed and Percentage of Soldiers Who Did Not Receive Pre-Deployment Evaluation by MMRB or MEB: Figure 2: Estimated Percentage of Soldiers Unable to Perform Functional Activities Yet Designated as 2 in Their Profiles: Figure 3: Comparison of Estimated Percentages of Soldiers with Profiles Who May Require Significant Duty Limitations against Those Who Do Not: Figure 4: Comparison of Estimated Percentages of Soldiers Having Medical Conditions That May Require Significant Duty Limitations Who Deployed against Those Who Did Not: Abbreviations: AHLTA: Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application: DOD: Department of Defense: MEB: Medical Evaluation Board: MEDPROS: Army Medical Protection System: MMRB: Military Occupational Specialty Medical Retention Board: MOS: Military Occupational Specialty: [End of section] United States Government Accountability Office: Washington, DC 20548: June 10, 2008: The Honorable Ike Skelton: Chairman: Committee on Armed Services: House of Representatives: The Honorable Susan A.In written comments on a draft of the report, DOD concurred with GAOs recommendations. Davis: Chairwoman: Subcommittee on Military Personnel: Committee on Armed Services: House of Representatives: The Honorable Vic Snyder: Member of Congress: House of Representatives: From fiscal years 2004 through 2007, the average number of active and reserve servicemembers deployed by the Department of Defense (DOD) has increased about 19 percent, from 216,000 to 256,000 servicemembers, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism.Once soldiers receive a permanent profile indicating that they have a permanent or chronic medical condition that may require significant limitations in assignment, Army guidance generally requires further evaluation of the soldiers' ability to perform duties in their current job assignments.Moreover, DOD guidance requires soldiers to be evaluated for medical readiness prior to deployment.The Army has instituted a program to provide ombudsmen to whom soldiers can bring medical concerns, but it is targeted at returning soldiers and is not well publicized as a resource for all soldiers with medical conditions.Without timely board evaluations and retention of profile information for deploying soldiers with medical conditions, the Army lacks full visibility and commanders must make medical readiness, deployment, and duty assignment decisions without being fully informed of soldiers medical limitations.The Army was not consistent in assigning numerical designations reflecting soldiers abilities to perform functional activities.GAO estimates from a random projectable sample that 7 percent of soldiers from these three installations had profiles indicating their inability to perform certain functional activities, yet carrying numerical designators below 3.