ARLINGTON, Va. (May 13, 2009) - Many health issues may arise after a Soldier redeploys from a combat zone.

Some wounds are physical and spotted easily. Others, such as traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder, are not as obvious, and may take some time to develop.

To help identify these problems, the Army has developed the Post Deployment Health Reassessment, or PDHRA, to evaluate Soldiers returning from a combat zone.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Army National Guard is calling attention to this program as it proactively screens redeploying Guard members for potential health issues.

"We want to look out after and safeguard every Soldier in the Army National Guard," said Maj. Anthony McGinthy, the PDHRA program manager for the Army National Guard's Surgeon's office.

The program gives Soldiers a chance to identify problems three to six months after deployment. This window gives them a chance to settle into life and work, and evaluate their health over that period of time. If combat-connected health problems arise, Soldiers can report it during their PDHRA to become eligible for care.

"This is a way for Soldiers to seek care that they need, whether that be behavioral, mental or physical" after deployment, said McGinthy.

The program consists of three parts. First, Guard members see the "Battlemind II" training video, which shows common readjustment issues for veterans. Then they complete a questionnaire detailing their health. After that, they sit down with a trained health-care provider for a one-on-one conversation.

The 45-minute, one-on-one session has qualified medical professionals asking questions about contact information, deployment location and health history.

Soldiers are also informed of the types of assistance for which they are eligible, which may include health care at a Veteran's Administration hospital, and an opportunity to request assistance. The health care provider will then refer the Soldier for follow-up care, treatment or evaluation if necessary.

"One of the things we do during the screening is advise them of their resources and link them to further care when needed," said McGinthy.

McGinthy said about 50 percent of Soldiers who complete the PDHRA receive follow-on care.

This proactive approach means that even Guard members returning from their second or third tour will not find themselves exempt.

"Every time they come back from a deployment they will be screened," said McGinthy.

(Staff Sgt. S. Patrick McCollum writes for the National Guard Bureau.)

Page last updated Wed May 13th, 2009 at 16:33