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Highlights

During the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, health problems prevented the deployment of a significant number of Army reservists. To help correct this problem the Congress passed legislation that required reservists to undergo periodic physical and dental examinations. The National Defense Authorization Act for 2002 directed GAO to review the value and advisability of providing examinations. GAO also examined whether the Army is collecting and maintaining information on reservist health. GAO obtained expert opinion on the value of periodic examinations and visited seven Army reserve units to obtain information on the number of examinations that have been conducted.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense To help ensure that early-deploying reservists are healthy to carry out their duties, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to comply with existing statutory requirements to ensure that the 5-year physical examinations for early-deploying reservists under 40 and the biennial physical examinations for early-deploying reservists over 40 are current and complete.
Closed - Implemented
According to the Department of Defense's Inspector General and the GAO Open Recommendation Tracking System, the Army has taken action to implement this recommendation. Using O&M Army funds, the Army Reserve initiated contractual arrangements so the statutory requirements for physical examinations for reserve personnel will be met. The Federal Strategic Health Alliance (FEDS HEAL) is a VA-HHS-DOD partnership that links the resources of the Veterans Health Administration and the HHS Division of Federal Occupational Health to provide immunizations, physical examinations, dental screening and other services to members of the Reserve Components. The fielding of MEDPROS, a component of the Medical Occupational Database System (MODS) provides a web-based system that documents and monitors medical and dental readiness. As funding increases for these programs, the medical and dental readiness of the Army reserve components will improve.
Department of Defense To help ensure that early-deploying reservists are healthy to carry out their duties, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to comply with existing statutory requirements to ensure that all early-deploying reservists complete their annual medical certificate of health status and that the appropriate Army personnel review the certificate
Closed - Implemented
According to the Department of Defense Inspector General and the GAO Open Recommendation Tracking System, the Army Reserve has developed the Annual Health Certification Questionnaire. Beta testing was completed on March 3, 2004. Field testing has begun and full implementation will follow.
Department of Defense To help ensure that early-deploying reservists are healthy to carry out their duties, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to comply with existing statutory requirements to ensure that the required dental examinations and treatments for all early-deploying reservists are complete.
Closed - Implemented
According to the Department of Defense's Inspector General and the GAO Open Recommendation Tracking System, dental assessments are currently being accomplished through the FEDS HEAL program with both private and public agencies and resources. The Army has significantly increased its emphasis and efforts to use automated tracking of all medical and dental readiness through MEDPROS. Increased marketing and education about the availability of the reserve dental plan to reservists should improve its utilization and therefore increase dental readiness.

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