Local News

Troops returning from Africa to be monitored at Fort Bragg

Posted February 11, 2015 6:23 p.m. EST

— President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the mission to combat the Ebola outbreak is not complete, but the United States is marking a transition.

"Our focus now is getting to zero because, as long as there's even one case of Ebola that's active out there, risks still exist," Obama said.

Almost all of the U.S. troops who were deployed to West Africa at the depths of the crisis are heading back to the U.S., and Fort Bragg is one of the controlled monitoring areas where troops will stay for 21 days before reuniting with their families.

The area – billets originally built to handle troops headed to Iraq and Afghanistan – provides a layer of protection to ensure they are Ebola-free, even though military leaders said the troops returning from Africa had no direct contact with Ebola patients.

"Any illness that they get is most likely an acute minor illness we can treat very easily, such as the common cold, traveler's diarrhea, influenza and certain things like that," said Col Ken Shaw, head of the Ebola response team at Womack Army Medical Center on post.

To keep the soldiers entertained for three weeks until they are cleared, the Army has set up gym equipment, reading rooms, television rooms and areas where they can Skype with their families, said Col Michael Smith, commander of the 28th Combat Support Hospital.

Soldiers will have their temperatures taken twice a day and other health concerns monitored around the clock at medical aid stations on site.

"If any of the soldiers should become ill, then we'll immediately transfer them to Womack Army Hospital, to a controlled and secured location in the hospital, and evaluate them and take care of them," Shaw said.