Last month, commanders and their senior enlisted advisors from the 11 Military Treatment Facilities in the Western Regional Medical Command, to include several general officers, came together in Fairbanks, Alaska for a week-long Senior Leaders' Training Course (SLTC) that focused on the Region's medical readiness priorities and strategies for the way ahead.

Setting the stage for the course's overarching theme, "Transforming Today to Stay Relevant Tomorrow," subject matter experts from around the Army Medical Department and private sector also attended the course and provided updates on AMEDD programs that greatly impact medical readiness and the quality of life for Soldiers. Retired Maj. Gen. Patrick Sculley, former chief of the U.S. Army Dental Corps, served as a senior mentor at the SLTC and provided valuable feedback throughout the course.

Maj. Gen. Philip Volpe, WRMC, commanding general, began the Sept. 26-30 senior leaders' session by reiterating one of the Region's top priorities -- Soldier Services.

"This includes the readiness of Soldiers, their preparation, health and wellness, and resilience when they deploy," he explained. "And, should they become chronically ill, injured or sick, it's taking care of them through the recovery and rehabilitation process, so that they are successful when they transition back to duty or out of the military."

A recent example of the Region's commitment to Soldier Services was last month's very successful execution of the 116th Brigade Combat Team demobilization of more than 2,700 National Guard and Reserve Component Soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Over a 10-day period, Soldier Readiness Center personnel conducted comprehensive medical screenings for 250 Soldiers every day, and ensured that every Soldier received important information about their medical care and other benefits to assist them in their transition back to civilian life.

"In a reserve component Soldier's lifecycle, the demobilization period is the most important. If that's not done well and to standard, problems occur," Volpe said. "

Brig. Gen. Brian Lein, command surgeon, U.S. Army Forces Command, Fort Bragg, N.C., was at JBLM last month and was able to observe the 116th demobilization process.

"That was by far, one of the best processes that I have seen for people coming back," Lein said.
Doing what's right for Soldiers is the reason a new concept is gaining momentum at JBLM. Soldier-Centered Medical Home is similar in concept to the AMEDD's Community-Based Medical Homes for military Family members. These Homes, however, would be just for Soldiers and would be located in areas on the installation where Soldiers live and work.

Col. Dallas Homas, commander, Madigan Healthcare System, is spearheading the initiative at JBLM. He told the audience of more than 70 senior leaders and guests that this program will in turn "enhance individual and unit readiness."

"If we help brigade commanders enhance their readiness and ability to fight and win wars then we've developed a trust relationship with them," Homas said. "It's the way to go. It's about keeping the Soldier ready."

The Western Region has also moved forward in the standardization of all nine of its Traumatic Brain Injury Centers. In the 10 years that our nation has been at war, approximately 220,000 service members, 126,000 from the Army, have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Dr. Dongwook Lee, WRMC's TBI Program Manager, is currently leading this effort in the Region. He said that the entire process will take approximately a year, and will result in a more standardized and streamlined process of care throughout the Region.

"Each TBI program has been assigned a category between 1 and 4 based on the MTF's capabilities and service demands," Lee said. "For example, Madigan Healthcare System's TBI Program is categorized as a Category 1, while Evans Army Community Hospital in Colorado has a Category 3 TBI program."

As more troops return from the battlefield with signature wounds such as traumatic brain injuries and other injuries that can ultimately cause long-term pain, Army Medicine continues to explore new and innovative approaches to alleviate pain.

Through collaborations with the University of Washington; Bastyr University; Puget Sound Veterans Affairs; Multi-Service Marketing Office; and the University of New Mexico, the Western Region established an Interdisciplinary Pain Management Center at Madigan Health Care System. The center provides a measurement-based, multidisciplinary approach to evaluation, while using a variety of modalities to treat Soldiers suffering from chronic pain.

"The mission of Madigan's Interdisciplinary Pain Management Center is to optimize the care of Soldiers and their Families who are experiencing chronic pain in order to minimize suffering and maximize their quality of life," said Col. Diane Flynn, chief, Madigan's Department of Pain Management.

All of the information presented at the SLTC underscores the importance of Soldier Services in the Army Medical Department. The course served as a testament of the excellent care that is available to our nation's servicemembers.

In his closing comments to conference attendees, senior mentor, retired Maj. Gen. Sculley said that healthcare has always been the most complex of all undertakings, and it has only become more complex in the nearly 10 years since he retired.

"When I think of the Warrior Transition Units - When I think of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System - When I think of the sentinel wounds of this particular war, we've gone from complexity squared to complexity cubed," he said. "All I can say is that I take my hat off to you and I'm very proud of the way you are addressing the issues. You've got your focus on the right spot -- the Soldiers and the beneficiaries."

Other Army Medicine programs and initiatives briefed at the course included the Integrated Disability Evaluation System; Comprehensive Behavioral Health System of Care/Behavioral Health; Updates to Civilian Personnel Opportunities; Patient-Center Medical Home; Wounded, Injured and Ill Program; Nine Month Deployment Cycle; and Soldier Medical Readiness Campaign Plan.

Page last updated Tue November 1st, 2011 at 00:00