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Returning troops to get additional health screening

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 15, 2006) – Soldiers returning from deployments will now participate in a new health screening program three to six months after arriving home.

The Post Deployment Health Reassessment program, or PDHRA, is designed to identify deployment-related health concerns that persist or problems Soldiers notice after coming home.

Secretary of the Army Dr. Francis Harvey and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker authorized the implementation of this program Jan. 23 for all active-duty and reserve-component Soldiers who have returned from deployment. The Army program is part of the Department of Defense’s force health protection program and aims to extend the range of care for Soldiers’ deployment-related physical and mental health concerns, officials said.

The PDHRA provides education, screening, assessment and access to care for a wide variety of questions and concerns that Soldiers may have about their health after a deployment, officials said.

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley explained the health reassessment this way: “When our units return from operations around the world, their equipment is rechecked and reset. We see this health screening as an expansion of the process that looks at resetting the fighting force – resetting and maintaining the wellness and health of Soldiers.”

Over the past few years defense officials said they learned that Soldiers’ deployment health concerns may not be noticed immediately after deployment. After Soldiers get back home and settle into their life and work, they may notice things are not quite right. They may not know the best place to find out what is wrong or what to do about it, said officials.

Every Soldier who returns from a deployment will still immediately go through what is called a Post Deployment Health Assessment. The PDHA includes an educational program for Soldiers called a medical threat debriefing, completion of a series of questions about their health and experiences during deployment, and a visit with a healthcare professional. That part is very similar to what Soldiers can expect three to six months later with the reassessment, officials said.

Soldiers may have felt differently then about their health than they do now and this is where the reassessment comes into play, Kiley said.

“It's important to remember that this is an overall health reassessment” Kiley said, “not just a mental health reassessment. Many of these Soldiers have been working very hard in combat operations throughout the world. They come back, get some time to rest and recover, and then they begin to realize that some of the things – backaches or skin rashes, for example – have not gone away. This screening process gives them an opportunity to come back to us, and for us to provide them the follow-on health care they need.”

For more information, visit https://fhp.osd.mil/pdhrainfo/index.jsp

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