Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Army finally understands mind-body-spirit connection

Army to Revolutionize Healthcare with Whole-Person Concept
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 29, 2008) - A change in healthcare begins March 1 across the Army, the Department of Defense and the nation, said the executive officer for the assistant surgeon general for warrior care and transition.

Phase 2: Assessment

Next comes the assessment phase when doctors, physical and vocational therapists, mental-health workers, social workers and others will evaluate the Soldiers in the four areas of body, mind, heart and spirit.

Physical well-being not only means the Soldiers are healing and going to physical therapy, it can mean they need to get back into shape or start weight-loss programs, Dominguez said, especially if they want to return to duty.

In the area of the mind, Dominguez said, the Army will pay close attention to Soldiers who have traumatic brain injuries and provide neurocognitive testing, and check for speech and language problems, problem-solving skills and concentration skills.

Experts will take a close look at Soldiers’ abilities and interests, what kind of jobs they want to do and what they can do. Most importantly, the Army is going to provide educational and vocational training for Soldiers in WTUs, and Soldiers will be required to participate as much as they are physically and mentally able.

Heart and Soul

In the area of the heart, medical officials will examine Soldiers’ relationships, how they are able to resolve conflicts and any socially unacceptable behaviors.

Col. David Reese, director for ministry initiatives at the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, said the Strong Bonds program of marriage retreats is being expanded to meet the specific needs of wounded Soldiers and their Families. In addition to the regular curriculum focusing on communication skills, the program will be handicapped accessible and provide forums on challenges specific to them, such as grief and loss. Some chaplains have already begun offering specific weekends to wounded warriors and their Families on an informal basis.

Dominguez said that spirit can include anything from religious support — Reese said chaplains will be assigned to all WTUs at the battalion level — to hobbies Soldiers’ enjoy. She said officials are especially concerned when Soldiers’ injuries make their previous hobbies impossible. What would a Soldier who liked to paint but has been blinded do for a hobby? Dominguez said they might help him or her learn to sculpt, for example.

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It's about time! Now if they can get the rest of the jackasses still thinking PTSD is a crock, we'll be that much closer to taking care of our veterans for real.

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