By Roger G. Meyer, Evans Army Community Hospital Public Affairs OfficeJuly 2, 2009
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-Prospective Soldier and Family member health care and support service providers attended a one-day Warrior Care Summit hosted by Fort Carson at the El Pomar Foundation's Penrose House in Colorado Springs June 25.
The summit offered military leaders an opportunity to explain their initiatives and processes while commercial and nonprofit representatives presented their services.
"We're doing a lot for Soldiers and their Families ... it's never enough. We're going to stitch up the quilts so no Soldiers or their Families fall through the cracks... Everybody's trying to figure this out," said Maj. Gen. Mark A. Graham, commanding general, Division West (First Army) and Fort Carson. "You're here because you have a passion to help other people. ... You have programs we haven't looked at yet."
During the event, military service representatives, TRIWEST and Veterans Affairs presented their needs and the requirements for providers to enter the government's health care and support service systems.
"We focus on deployment health, to make sure our Soldiers are ready to go to combat. One of the key aspects we work at Evans is to make sure we put in place programs to support Families as the Soldiers deploy. We're integrated with garrison to make sure we have the programs in place," said Col. Jimmie O. Keenan, commander of Evans Army Community Hospital.
Graham also presented the Warrior Family Community Partnership Center initiative. The initiative will combine several services currently provided by Army Community Services and the Soldier and Family Assistance Center and make them and more services available to all Soldiers and Family members. It will also facilitate partnerships with community organizations, nonprofits and the VA. It's an integrated multi-faceted partnership to combine resources, he said.
"The community wants to help; it's very encouraging. This will make it easier for you to plug in," Graham told the audience.
Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, an Army psychiatrist and special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense (Health Affairs) for psychological health and traumatic brain injury, spoke about several new medical and research initiatives and the Department of Defense's new Real Warriors campaign to combat the stigma servicemembers associate with behavioral health care.
According to the Department of Defense Center for Excellence, "the Real Warriors campaign promotes the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration for returning servicemembers and their families. Real Warriors know that seeking care is a sign of strength that benefits themselves, their families and their units and services."
Sutton said the Real Warriors initiative began in May, "to ignite a different level of dialogue and understanding, connectiveness, compassion and action around the country."
She described it as "a national public health outreach educational campaign designed to harness the power of story. Real stories or fighting the battle on the home front as well as on the battlefront; fighting injuries that are both visible and invisible, leading to real strength.
"It does take a nation to embrace, love and honor those who have sacrificed so much. It takes a team, a community, a partnership. We'll do as we've done during our country's history, we'll take this on as a challenge and say, 'yes, we don't have a road map, but together we are going to pioneer, we're going to figure it out,'" Sutton said.
Commercial and volunteer care groups, organizations and representatives participated in three breakout groups that gave them the opportunity to explain to Army leaders how they can help Soldiers and Families. The representatives who came from throughout the Western region offered massage therapy, sexual addiction treatment, psychological and risk assessment tools, a spiritual retreat, equine-assisted and art therapies, a rehabilitation ranch project and other proposals.
More information about Real Warriors and behavioral/psychological health is available 24/7 from the Real Warriors outreach call center 866-966-1020 or at http://www.realwarriors.net.