ARLINGTON, Va. (11/12/13) - For 376 years, the National Guard has proudly served both our local communities and our nation at home and around the world. In 2012/2013 alone, states mobilized and responded to domestic floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes, and deployed overseas in support of training foreign allies, humanitarian relief and combat operations.

"The past decade has created the most capable and battle-tested National Guard units and seasoned leadership in history" said Col. Jill Faris, deputy surgeon general, Army National Guard." "Given the experience of our Soldiers, and several states responding to CONUS (domestic) and OCONUS (overseas) deployments throughout the year, we have to get in front of health risks and mitigate any challenges our Soldiers face during deployment and redeployment."

To improve access to care and strengthen ready and operational units across the Guard, the Army has developed the Deployment Health Assessment Program (DHAP), a preventive tool that provides early identification and care for emerging physical and behavioral health conditions during the deployment cycle. Each assessment addresses health issues and injuries such as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, environmental exposures and combat-related injuries.

"The DHAP provides Soldiers and Army civilians the chance to discuss a wide range of physical and behavioral concerns in a private and confidential setting with a trained health care provider" said Maj. Traci Willie, program executive officer for the Army National Guard, DHAP. "DHAP is a vital tool for each Soldier who receives orders to deploy, and also a valuable way for commanders to champion medical readiness within their units and across states and U.S. territory."

As a critical tool of the Army's Ready and Resilient Campaign (R2C), DODI 6490.03 mandates DHAP execution for all OCONUS deployments greater than 30 days to locations not supported by a fixed U.S. Military Treatment Facility (MTF). Additionally, DHAP assessments may be required based on environmental risks and commander's discretion for all other deployments (OCONUS) less than 30 days, OCONUS deployments with fixed U.S. MTFs, or CONUS deployments.

"To maintain a strong force and maintain operational commitments at home and abroad, we must invest and take action to protect the physical and behavioral health of our Soldiers." The DHAP provides Soldiers a gateway to care and gives commanders the ability to reduce non-deployable status across their unit and get care for those Soldiers that need it the most" Faris said.

The three DHAP assessments are completed in the following order during the deployment cycle:

•Pre-DHA (Pre-Deployment Health Assessment, DD Form 2795) is taken within 120 days of deployment and revalidated within 60 days

•PDHA (Post-Deployment Health Assessment, DD Form 2796) is taken during redeployment

•PDHRA (Post -Deployment Health Reassessment, DD Form 2900) is taken 90-180 days after deployment

The DHAP execution takes place at the unit level. It is the responsibility of unit commanders to take measures to provide a healthy and supportive environment for all deployed and redeployed Soldiers/Army civilians to openly and honestly participate in the DHAP within the specific time frames for each assessment.