Veterans

July 17, 2013

Army medicine, VA share focus on behavioral health concerns

Both the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs share a concern for soldier behavioral health, and are working together to further mutual goals.

As the war in Afghanistan winds down and Army medicine moves into the future, behavioral health concerns will remain one of the biggest challenges faced by the Army, said Surgeon General of the Army Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho.

And after 12 years of conflict, it’s not just service members who will face behavioral health challenges, it is their families as well.

As a response to that concern, Horoho said that Army Medicine has embedded behavioral health into military patient centers and medical facilities. Included in that, she said, is a focus on sleep, nutrition, and even brain health.

“It’s really a strategic vulnerability,” Horoho said. “We need to take care of our children today to make sure they are healthy mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally; to be able to serve in our nation’s military or within civilian industry.”

While the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, mandate focuses on transition assistance for veterans, the department has also been focusing on ensuring a solid foundation for families as they transition with their veterans, said John Medve, the executive director of the VA/DOD Collaboration Service.

“One of the areas we’ve been working very hard on is to make sure there is alignment between DOD programs and VA programs, so we can seamlessly move people across,” Medve said. “We have federal recovery coordinators who work to ensure families understand all the dynamics they need as they transition.”

Medve also said there is now an integrated mental health strategy that is the result of collaboration between the departments. Now, treatments and protocols are in synch and include VA representatives embedded in military medical facilities.

Horoho said that alignment is part of a strategy that puts patients first.

“We’ve looked at the disability process and have aligned DOD’s strategies, processes and standards with the VA, because we’re looking at a patient care experience and continuity of care,” Horoho said. “We’ve increased our capabilities to share records so disability from both the VA side and DOD are in synch, collaboration has definitely increased.”

Another area of collaboration between the Army and the VA is in tele-health, which Medve said is expanding in the VA.

“It’s clearly important for us, from the rural aspect, in trying to get mental health clinician services out to those parts of the country that aren’t serviced by a major metropolitan area,” Medve said.

The Army has been using tele-behavioral health and distance counseling for several years. The Army has even provided such services to remote command operating posts in Afghanistan, Horoho said.

“We use tele-behavioral health so that instead of waiting for service members to get back home to deal with something, they can deal with it right there in theater,” she said. “We find that our younger service members love it because that’s the world they operate in. But we offer both types of counseling, because some of our more seasoned Soldiers prefer face-to-face. We have both capabilities, it’s very effective.”

Army medicine is also working with the American Pediatric Association to look at how to put wellness into its pediatric clinics as well as primary care clinics, Horoho said.

Oftentimes, she said, a parent or child will show up at one of the clinics complaining of aches and pains. But the underlying problems may actually be anxiety, stress or family challenges, Horoho said. The Army wants to embed behavioral health in those teams.

Both Horoho and Medve spoke, July 8, during a presentation at the Military Child Education Coalition’s national training seminar, just outside Washington, D.C.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

VA announces single regional framework under MyVA initiative

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 26 that it is taking the first steps under the MyVA initiative to realign its many organizational maps into one map with five regions to better serve Veterans. The new regions under the MyVA alignment will allow VA to begin the process of integrating disparate organizational boundaries into...
 
 
Navy photograph by PO2 Brian Wilbur

Nisei veterans honored with France’s highest award

Navy photograph by PO2 Brian Wilbur Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivers remarks at a ceremony honoring World War II veterans of the 100th Battalion 442nd Regiment at the Japanese Cultural Center of ...
 
 

VA announces appointment of new members to advisory council

The Department of Veterans Affairs is announcing the appointment of new members to the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. VA will appoint Stephen L. Hauser, MD as committee chair for a term through September, 2016. Hauser is the Robert A. Fishman Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the...
 

 

Applications accepted for 2015 National Veterans Wheelchair Games

The Department of Veterans Affairs is accepting applications for the 2015 National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Registration began in early January and will close April 15. The National Veterans Wheelchair Games is a sports and rehabilitation program for military service Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, amputations or certain neurological...
 
 

Report: Agent Orange planes hold risk years after Vietnam

The health of some U.S. Air Force reservists could have been put at risk from the residue left in planes that sprayed Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, the Institute of Medicine reported Jan. 9. There’s not much data about the level of contamination, but limited testing years later make it plausible that some reservists...
 
 

Consolidation of POW/MIA mission moving forward

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Jan. 9 the Defense Department will, effective Monday, consolidate into one new agency the organizations that account for U.S. military prisoners of war and those missing in action. Hagel called for a review early last year to bring together the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, the Joint Personnel Accounting...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>