Late Breaking News
Sergeant Major of the Army Recounts How He Overcame PTSD Stigma Subhead: IoM Report Calls for Annual Screening by DoD
- Categorized in: August 2012, Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), News, PTSD, TBI
"DOD and VA offer many programs for PTSD, but treatment isn't reaching everyone who needs it, and the departments aren't tracking which treatments are being used or evaluating how well they work in the long term," said committee chair Sandro Galea, professor and chair of the department of epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York City. "In addition, DOD has no information on the effectiveness of its programs to prevent PTSD."
The report, which concludes the first phase of a study of DOD and VA programs to prevent, identify, and treat PTSD, did not measure the effectiveness of the programs. The committee said it did not have sufficient data to do that but hoped to refine its findings and recommendations with additional data in the second phase of the study.
Committee members did note, however, that despite efforts to remove barriers to care, stumbling blocks remain, including concerns that getting help will adversely affect servicemembers’ military careers; the need to travel long distances to a mental-health provider; and the inability of patients to take time off from their duties or work to get treatment.
In addition, healthcare providers may lack training, time or be in a less than optimal location for providing help, such as a war zone. The report also cited organizational barriers such as limited treatment opportunities in combat zones, restrictions on when and where medications for PTSD can be used, and logistical difficulties in getting troops or veterans to appointments.
Commending DOD and VA for jointly developing a clinical practice guideline for care of PTSD, the committee said it is not clear, however, how frequently healthcare providers are adhering to the guidelines.
More Mental Health Professionals.
In a commentary published in the San Antonio Express-News for National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta wrote that, as a result of the 35% increase in mental health professionals in military hospitals and clinics during the past three years, the number of PTSD cases diagnosed increased by more than 25%, even as the total number of deployed troops decreased.
Also in June, two new $11 million National Intrepid Centers of Excellence satellite centers broke ground at Fort Belvoir and Camp LeJeune for troops with TBI and PTSD.
The two new centers are the first of nine such centers that will be funded and built by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and will be located at military bases and medical centers around the country to provide care for troops with TBI and PTSD. Each of the new NICoE Satellite Centers is set to be completed and gifted to DoD within approximately three years, according to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
Panetta said the centers “will help complement the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda and provide cutting-edge evaluations, treatment planning, research and education for servicemembers and for their families.”
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