“Having continued access to behavioral health specialists has been a tremendous asset to our Soldiers while we have been forward deployed,” said Capt. Andrew Yates, battalion surgeon, V Corps.
When V Corps soldiers had to rapidly mobilize in early 2022 for forward movement to Europe, it was determined that the local clinic would not be able to provide adequate Behavioral Health care to the increased population. The Ireland Army Health Clinic Behavioral Health team was asked to provide continuity of care to the soldiers that required it.
“The Ansbach behavioral health capacity is limited, and that challenge is why Capt. Yates reached back to see how we could maintain care to our already established Behavioral Health patients,” said Col. Ross Witters, V Corps’ command surgeon.
The Behavioral Health team reviewed the request and developed boundaries to ensure that the proper care could be given. Dr. Laura Johnson, Chief of Behavioral Health at IRAHC, said that soldiers participating in the program must be already established patients, they cannot miss an appointment, and must book their next appointment before the end of each appointment.
These appointments are tracked between the IRAHC Behavioral Health providers and the V Corps Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion Surgeon office.
Denise Masters, IRAHC staff social worker, facilitated the details of this program between the Behavioral Health staff and the V Corps Surgeons Office. She was recognized with a three-star note for her contribution to the success of this program by the V Corps Commander, Lt. Gen. John S. Kolasheski.
“The ability for our Soldiers to be able to continue following-up with the same providers that they have already established with and become accustomed to has been paramount in minimizing disruptions to the specialized care that our Soldiers are receiving,” said Yates. “By necessity, psychotherapy and patient encounters for behavioral health conditions are a very individualized experience; over time most patients will come to develop a deep sense of trust and comfort with their BH providers.”
Witters reiterated this sentiment, saying that this program is a real proof of concept, taking a unit that is going forward and maintaining reach back to their established provider stateside with no break in care.
Johnson, Masters and the Behavioral Health team at IRAHC see this program as the way forward. During COVID lockdowns, virtual health appointments became normalized, and this program takes that foundation and builds on the possibilities for continuity of care through a mobilization forward.