Protecting Soldiers' Health: Post-Deployment Health Reassessment

Article excerpt

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STAFF Sgt. Les Newport returned from a nine-month deployment to Iraq in November 2008. "While I had been in the Army for 27 years, nothing prepares you for what you may witness during a deployment. You push your health concerns aside as you are excited to reunite with family and loved ones," said Newport, who belongs to the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team with the Indiana National Guard.

He completed the Post-Deployment Health Reassessment four months after he returned from Iraq.

"The PDHRA was very helpful for me. I knew I had a banged up knee and was relieved to be referred to a specialist for tests, and eventually, treatment."

What is PDHRA?

More than 483,000 Soldiers have been screened by the PDHRA since the summer of 2005. The PDHRA program is part of the Department of Defense's overall Force Health Protection Program, and is a global health initiative based on solid research.

Soldiers and civilians back from a combat zone for 90 days or more are eligible for the three-part screening. Soldiers who redeployed after March 10, 2005, are required to complete the PDHRA.

The PDHRA proactively screens for potential health issues. The program also focuses on identification of treatment so Soldiers and civilians can retain a healthy balance in spite of the multiple stresses associated with a deployment.

"Soldiers want to spend time with their families when they return home. But, it's important for Soldiers to address their medical needs before they become serious," said Col. Shirley Kyles, PDHRA program administrator for the Army's active component. "By conducting the PDHRA within 90 to 180 days after a Soldier returns from a deployment, we can potentially identify and alleviate some of the stress associated with a combat deployment."

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According to Newport, it is important for Soldiers to recognize their symptoms, be open to receiving medical attention and be an active participant in their treatment. "It takes real courage for Soldiers to seek help. The PDHRA allows Soldiers to address issues and get plugged into resources such as VA benefits," said Newport.

How does the screening work?

"Research shows us that a Soldier's transition back to home life is sometimes difficult. We understand Soldiers may be reluctant to seek help for issues. The PDHRA bypasses this stigma by bringing the medical system directly to the Soldier," said Kyles.

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The PDHRA consists of viewing Battlemind II training, completing a health care form (DD Form 2900), which includes questions for both behavioral and physical health concerns, and speaking one-on-one with a health care provider. …