Originally created 09/22/05

Reserve hospital unit mobilized to relieve active-duty troops



Pfc. Kathryn Burbage will be combining her duty to her country with some genealogy research.

"My family is from Germany and Austria, and I'm the first person from the immediate family to go there," said Pfc. Burbage, an Army reservist activated with the 3297th U.S. Army Hospital, who will be a food inspector during her 18-month tour in Germany.

On Saturday, 69 reservists were mobilized in a ceremony at the Army Reserve Center on Fort Gordon.

"Since 2002, we have mobilized almost 800. The authorized strength of the 3297th is 700," said Col. Carol Bowdoin, the 3297th commander. "Our current strength is 1,036."

The commander said the unit's personnel strength grows monthly as its mission grows.

Soldiers mobilized Saturday will take the place of active-duty soldiers who are being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. Many in Saturday's group were being sent to Germany.

"It's a rare opportunity for you to do something unique, to take part in something larger than yourself," Col. Bowdoin said.

The soldiers will fill a variety of medical occupations during their tour - including social workers, laboratory technicians, psychiatric nurses, emergency room nurses and medics.

Brig. Gen. Randolph P. Strong, Fort Gordon's commanding general, also spoke to the soldiers at Saturday's ceremony.

"You are fulfilling an absolutely essential need," he said.

He thanked the Reservists for their service and said he couldn't imagine what they must have to go through putting on hold their civilian lives and careers.

"This is my full-time job. I'm not in the dilemma you are in, trying to balance two careers. Words fail to adequately express what your mobilization means," the general said.