By Stephanie Bryant, Tripler Army Medical Center Public AffairsSeptember 27, 2012
HONOLULU (Sept. 27, 2012) -- Tripler Army Medical Center hosted the first behavioral health summit in the Pacific region, Sept. 13-14, here.
The 2012 Pacific Region Behavioral Health Summit focused on the theme of "Answering the Call: Addressing the Challenges of Behavioral Health within the Pacific Rim."
At the summit, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine, Navy, local hospital and university behavioral health providers gathered together to share knowledge and discuss the latest tactics, strategies, technologies, systems, treatments, processes and services for patient care.
Providers were offered the opportunity to build partnerships between and within the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and the community to assist in developing effective behavioral health prevention strategies.
Dr. David Brown, chief, Behavioral Health, Pacific Regional Medical Command, or PRMC, opened the summit by discussing the importance of knowledge sharing. Brown said as a child he learned about Hermann von Helmholtz, a German physicist, and his ideas about the creative process.
"As we learn our crafts and our skills, we saturate ourselves with knowledge," Brown explained. "The knowledge incubates and, after awhile, you have that 'eureka' moment."
Presentations and discussions were held during the two-day gathering covering areas ranging from resiliency and suicide prevention to post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injuries.
Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher, commander, PRMC and Tripler Army Medical Center, or TAMC, echoed Brown's message about the importance of knowledge sharing to combat behavioral health issues.
"Because you are here signifies how important behavioral health is (as well as) your desire to effectively treat the various diseases that our service members, our families and our veterans are going through," Gallagher said. "It also signifies your thirst for knowledge."
"The Army continues to put forth great effort, great intellect and funding in order to mitigate some of the effects of some of the challenges (our military) faces today," Gallagher added.
Due to the region's geography, the Pacific has additional challenges obstructing its efforts that other geographic areas of responsibility do not. In an effort to overcome these challenges, PRMC has embraced tele-health and it has become an important resource for providers, especially those who work in behavioral health.
"Tripler really is leading the way in tele-behavioral health," said Karl Kiyokawa, vice president, Hawaii Operations, TriWest Healthcare Alliance. "I had an opportunity to observe a pilot program (for behavioral health) and to sit behind the providers as they did the (video teleconferences). I (also) talked to the Soldiers and the providers. The growth and evolution of (the tele-behavioral health) program is just phenomenal."
In addition to current services, treatments and technologies, the summit allowed providers to work together to identify areas for future research on the spectrum of behavioral health and its impact on service members, veterans, families, caregivers and health care providers.
As the providers looked to future initiatives, the key focus stays on reaching the beneficiaries who need them.
"When you get injured, shot or blown up, you can see those wounds, but many of our Soldiers are hiding wounds from the tragedies they have experienced and the fighting they have done," Gallagher explained. "What we have got to do is get them to come forward and talk about that with us. Once they start talking about it, the healing begins."