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Soldier's Checklist

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January 23, 2003

Fort Stewart-- About a thousand more troops left Ft. Stewart on their way to Kuwait Thursday. With so many troops from Fort Stewart heading overseas, you might think the base is clearing out.

Actually, thousands of National Guardsmen and reservists are pouring onto the base either to replace departing troops or to before being deployed themselves.

This converted gym is one of the first Fort Stewart stops for these reserve troops, but they're doing paperwork, not working out.

There’s a nearly constant-stream of troops going through the Soldier Readiness Checklist. Close to 1,500 troops weekly. One of those troops this week is Sgt. Jose Machado. "They make it pretty easy," he says.

But not everything "This is your death gratuity. You're leaving it to your mother," says an aid. The soldiers have to prepare wills.

And handle life insurance. "You're leaving 100% to your spouse." And generally get their affairs in order in case they're wounded or killed in action.

"It hits them, letting them know it's wartime," says Sgt. Ervin Hicks, SRC Officer. "I've seen some soldiers get really emotional."

Sgt. Machado also makes sure his finances are taken care of. "Do you have direct deposit?"

And goes over his medical records. "Do you have DNA on file?"

Another sign of the times-- "You might experience some burning." Machado gets an anthrax vaccine, which is tougher than your average shot.

"lt kind of painful at the beginning, then it starts burning after a while," Jose says. While this process may not be pleasant, each soldier knows it is necessary.

"He needs to be taken care of," said Sgt. Hicks. "His family needs to be taken care of... just in case an emergency arises."'

And Sgt. Machado says it's just one more step toward getting the job done in the Persian Gulf.

posted at 6:25PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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