By Timothy HaleSeptember 19, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Sept. 19, 2013) -- Top medical leaders from across the U.S. Army Reserve met to discuss the future health of the force as Soldiers and civilians continued to deploy overseas.
The 2013 Deployment Health Assessment Program, or DHAP, leader conference was held at the U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters, here, Sept. 12-13.
Started in 2006, the DHAP gives medical leaders the latest information, tools, and techniques to help them care for the force.
Col. Cornelius Maher, Army Reserve command surgeon, said the prime task of medical personnel is to take care of the "most important weapon on the battlefield," the men and women who have and will deploy in the future.
Discussions during the two-day event covered topics ranging from pre- and post-deployment health assessments, post-deployment health reassessments, or PDHRAs, the Yellow Ribbon Program, Veterans Affairs referrals, Army Reserve Warrior Transition Liaisons, and Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness and Resiliency training.
"We all need to step out on the same right foot and move forward," Maher said.
Brig. Gen. Margaret Wilmoth, the keynote speaker, said that investing in people really matters.
"You can have all the fancy weapon systems in the world, but if you don't have a trained, knowledgeable, and healthy Soldier to operate those, you're not going to have the maximum potential effect," she said.
"Really investing in your people is the best way, for any organization, to develop and grow. So investing in our Soldiers and our families is critical to the success of what we have to do in the Army Reserve for the Army and the country," she said.
Wilmoth, who is the dean and professor at the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions at Georgia State University in Atlanta, also has a son and daughter-in-law serving in the Army Reserve. Being both a service member and a mother of a service member gives her a unique perspective.
"It helps me appreciate the stresses of what it's like to be a family member of an Army Reserve Soldier," she said. "And it helps me really understand the importance of making sure our Soldiers are ready and resilient, and have all that they need to deploy," she said.
The one challenge that leaders have is helping younger Soldier understand the importance of completing the pre-deployment health assessment, PDHA and the PDHRA, she said.
"The more we can explain to the young Soldier that this is about them and not just about completing another document," she said. "It's about making sure that we, as leaders, truly care and this is a really important thing for their health."
Wilmoth said that as budgets continue to be tightened, it is even more important to focus on providing care.
"We cannot stop investing in our Soldiers," Wilmoth said. "Coming home is a very important transitional time. And it's really important, even in an era of budget cuts, that we truly to consider the importance of that and make sure that the health and welfare of our Soldiers remains a top priority."