Edition: Wed, November 14, 2007
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Army Sponsored Study Appears in Journal of the American Medical Association--Study Helps Army Understand Post-Deployment Soldier Health Issues

What is it? An Army study about the overall health of redeploying Soldiers was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Nov. 14. All Soldiers undergo two health assessments when they redeploy; once during an initial Post Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA) and again three to six months later during a Post Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA). Walter Reed Army Institute of Research studied the health assessments of the first 88,000 post-OIF Soldiers who completed both screenings in order to better understand the mental and physical health impacts of combat and the most effective ways to prevent, recognize and treat health issues related to combat deployments. The intention is to detect mental health problems while they are still small, simple, and temporary.

What did the Army learn? This study looks at the first 88,000 Soldiers who went through both screenings.

Study findings:
- The study shows that if you screen Soldiers a second time, you uncover a second, larger group of Soldiers who were not detected to have health concerns on the first screen.
- Of the Soldiers who identified either depression or PTSD symptoms on the first screening, more than half had improved by the second screening; many of them without treatment.
- The study also indicates that many Soldiers sought care within 30 days of the initial screening even if they were not referred, suggesting that the Army's three-part process of self-identification, provider interview and Battlemind training promotes seeking out mental health care when needed.
- Although on the initial screening National Guard and Reserve Soldiers reported physical and mental health concerns similar to the rates of active-duty Soldiers, their concerns were significantly higher than active-duty Soldiers at the time of the second screening. Reserve- component Soldiers could be more concerned with their health because they are worried about their Tri-Care benefits expiring, where as active-duty Soldiers know they have time to seek help if it is needed. However, VA's will always provide help with combat related injuries, although Soldiers should document their symptoms for their files.
- Serious relationship conflicts showed the largest rate of increase between the PDHA to the PDHRA. This highlights the mental health impact on families, a finding also noted in the recent DOD Mental Health Task Force Report.
- Soldiers reported alcohol misuse at rates similar to other problems, although the fact that Soldiers are willing to admit to alcohol misuse could be an indication the stigma of seeking helping is waning.

What is the Army doing? We have put in place a comprehensive screening mechanism to identify Soldiers who may need assistance. All Soldiers are screened for physical and mental health risks upon redeployment and then again three to six months after they return. After completing both the initial assessment and the follow-up reassessment, the Soldiers have the opportunity to speak directly to a health care provider.

Additionally, the Army has also launched the Army Medical Action Plan, which consists of Warrior Transition Units Soldier Family Assistance Centers, providing one-stop support to the Families or wounded and ailing Soldiers.


Travel Risk Planning Systems

Going somewhere? Use the Travel Risk Planning System before you hit the road. TRiPS is an online automated risk assessment tool designed for Army personnel using their POVs or motorcycles during pass, leave, TDY or PCS. Fiscal 2007 statistics indicate personnel using TRiPS were 4.2 times less likely to be involved in a fatal POV accident than a non-TRiPS user. Mandated by Army Regulation 385-10, Army Safety Program, TRiPS is intended to increase the leader to led dialogue during the leave form approval process. The tool is aimed at providing leaders with recommendations and insights into their subordinate's travel plans in order to protect the Army's most valuable asset - its personnel. For more information click here.

Additionally - Be on the look-out for the new and highly versatile Individual and Leader Risk Assessment tool. This automated or paper based product will allow Soldiers and leaders the opportunity to conduct a quick yet accurate personal or group risk analysis at any time.