Post-Deployment Health Reassessment
July 23, 2009
STAFF Sgt. Les Newport returned from a nine-month deployment to Iraq in November 2008. "While I had been in the Army for 27 years, nothing prepares you for what you may witness during a deployment. You push your health concerns aside as you are excited to reunite with family and loved ones," said Newport, who belongs to the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team with the Indiana National Guard.
He completed the Post-Deployment Health Reassessment four months after he returned from Iraq.
"The PDHRA was very helpful for me. I knew I had a banged up knee and was relieved to be referred to a specialist for tests, and eventually, treatment."
<b>What is PDHRA'</b>
More than 483,000 Soldiers have been screened by the PDHRA since the summer of 2005. The PDHRA program is part of the Department of Defense's overall Force Health Protection Program, and is a global health initiative based on solid research.
Soldiers and civilians back from a combat zone for 90 days or more are eligible for the three-part screening. Soldiers who redeployed after March 10, 2005, are required to complete the PDHRA.
The PDHRA proactively screens for potential health issues. The program also focuses on identification of treatment so Soldiers and civilians can retain a healthy balance in spite of the multiple stresses associated with a deployment.
"Soldiers want to spend time with their families when they return home. But, it's important for Soldiers to address their medical needs before they become serious," said Col. Shirley Kyles, PDHRA program administrator for the Army's active component. "By conducting the PDHRA within 90 to 180 days after a Soldier returns from a deployment, we can potentially identify and alleviate some of the stress associated with a combat deployment."
According to Newport, it is important for Soldiers to recognize their symptoms, be open to receiving medical attention and be an active participant in their treatment. "It takes real courage for Soldiers to seek help. The PDHRA allows Soldiers to address issues and get plugged into resources such as VA benefits," said Newport.
<b>How does the screening work'</b>
"Research shows us that a Soldier's transition back to home life is sometimes difficult. We understand Soldiers may be reluctant to seek help for issues. The PDHRA bypasses this stigma by bringing the medical system directly to the Soldier," said Kyles.
The PDHRA consists of viewing Battlemind II training, completing a health care form (DD Form 2900), which includes questions for both behavioral and physical health concerns, and speaking one-on-one with a health care provider.
Battlemind II Training, developed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, includes vignettes that help Soldiers relate combat experiences to feelings they may encounter after deployment.
The training also emphasizes safe and healthy personal relationships and teaches Soldiers to look out for each other's health.
"We educate Soldiers to look out for their buddies. We teach Soldiers to recognize symptoms such as erratic behaviors in their buddies, and we train Soldiers how to get help for their buddies," said Kyles.
<b>A commander's program</b>
In most cases, commanders inform Soldiers when it is time to begin the PDHRA process. Soldiers can complete the screening by attending a unit-scheduled screening event, making an appointment at their local medical treatment facility, or through the PDHRA call center.
"It is important to note that the PDHRA is a commander's program," said PDHRA program manager, Lt. Col. Sophia Tillman-Ortiz. "To ensure a smooth transition, commanders must understand the PDHRA program and help facilitate the screening process."
According to Tillman-Ortiz, Soldiers need to know about the services and benefits available to them, both from the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The PDHRA is an opportunity for Soldiers to discuss, in a safe environment, issues that may be bothering them once they return home.
The Army recognizes that family and friends play a vital role in a Soldier's transition back to home life. "The Army encourages loved ones to take part in the process by reminding their Soldiers to complete the screening beginning 90 days after they return home," said Tillman-Ortiz.
"It is important to understand that if you or your loved one recognize any health-related issues that may need to be addressed, you don't need to wait for the PDHRA. Encourage your Soldier to seek professional advice for health concerns."
For more information about the PDHRA program, Soldiers, civilians and family members can visit <a href="http://fhp.osd.mil/">http://fhp.osd.mil/</a> or <a href="http://www.armyg1.army.mil">www.armyg1.army.mil.</a> Soldiers and commanders can check their PDHRA status at Army Knowledge Online under "My Medical Readiness," or by clicking on the PDHRA stoplight on their AKO page.