FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Army News Service, Sept. 11, 2015) -- Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the military has made leaps and bounds in combat trauma care, said Army Maj. Gen. Brian C. Lein as he opened a three-day Department of Defense summit on Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, Sept. 9.

"In 2001, as a general surgeon, we carried the same battlefield dressing that was present in World War I," said Lein, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Now, he said every Soldier on the battlefield has coagulation dressings to stop traumatic bleeding. "Every Soldier is walking around with a tourniquet. Every Soldier is walking around with a Joint First Aid Kit."

"They have a device that relieves tension pneumothorax. We have a device that relieves obstructed airways and a device that stops bleeding. Those are the three biggest things that stop battlefield loss where we are today," he said.

There's a system of joint trauma care now from the battlefield all the way to Walter Reed or Brooke Army Medical Center, he explained.

That same type of system is needed for traumatic brain injury, Lein said. Improvements are being made, he said, but more can be done, and he hopes the three-day summit will help spark innovations.

"We were not prepared going into this prolonged conflict on how we were going to take care of behavioral health on the battlefield. We had no idea of the effects of traumatic brain injury on our Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines," Lein said.

"We have pushed our behavioral health providers far forward on the battlefield," he said, adding telemedicine is now used for behavioral health more than anything else.

In Afghanistan, providers use virtual behavioral health centers to communicate on computers with experts back in the United States, he said.

"That being said ... we have a long way to go.

"We've got to get after diagnosis, treatment, prevention, tracking, and ultimate full recovery from these illnesses and injuries that I think this center is after," Lein said regarding the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, where the summit was taking place.

"We owe it to our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters to build a system ... and take care of these injuries so that they are not treated as lepers," he said.

"We owe them more and I think we all need to be committed to getting them back again to you -- getting them healed just like we can do."