By Staff Sgt. Cody HardingFebruary 23, 2012
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- Ensuring Solider health and well-being can be a challenge for any commander. Though they need information from doctors and health care providers about the Soldier's readiness, too much information can have dangerous consequences.
This was one of the main issues addressed at the Protected Health Information Town Hall at the Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital Feb. 15. The other large topic concerned suicide in the Military, and how leaders can spot high-risk Soldiers in their units.
The town hall was held for commanders and senior noncommissioned officers from the units on Yongsan Garrison. Though it was a mandated briefing for battalion-level command staff and below, several colonels arrived to also learn how to help protect their Soldier's information.
The town hall began with opening remarks from Col. Ronald Smith, United States Forces Korea Command Surgeon, who said there has been an increased emphasis on recognizing Soldiers at risk in recent years.
The panel was then introduced, consisting of counselors, medical officers and legal officers working with BAACH. The panel gave a presentation on suicide, a serious problem in the Military, and some of the factors that have been found to lead to a suicide attempt.
After the presentation, the panel held a Q&A session where the command staff was able to ask questions about information from the doctors concerning profiles and communication between the doctor and the unit, behavioral health and how far a leader should go before initializing Military separation.
One of the largest programs emphasized was the eProfile system, an online database for Soldier readiness for commanders to use. However, there were several complaints with the program's access and features, limiting its use for the command.
Michael Vaughn, a counselor with the Army Substance Abuse Program, said that the meeting helped to clear up misconceptions about protected information. He called the meeting a balancing act between knowing a Soldier's readiness and revealing too much, which may cause a Soldier to distrust his or her command.
"I want them to know that we understand that we are here to support the command," Vaughn said. "That's our job. At the same time, we have to protect that information that we give out and minimize it, because if we would give the commander all of the information than the Soldiers wouldn't be willing to talk to us, and we couldn't do our job for the command."