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Providing best care for Soldiers, Families

Published: 10:07AM January 10th, 2013

As we start a new year, many from Joint Base Lewis-McChord are or will soon be preparing to reintegrate with their families following a deployment. This can be a challenging time, regardless if it was a first deployment or a third. This is critical time and you and your family are not alone.

As Soldiers transition from the fast-paced, stressful life on the battlefield to being back at home and begin the RESET of their unit, their spouses and children, too, are readjusting after many months anxiously waiting and relying on others for support.

Reintegration and reset is about the Family member just as much as it is about the Soldier as we identify and mitigate stressors. It is vital that we break through the stigma to seeking care. By seeking needed treatment, we can improve the readiness of our units and the overall quality of life for our Soldiers and Family members.

Over the past decade, the Army has invested much into the research and testing of the newest advances in medicine, covering a wide spectrum of conditions, in order to gain insight and develop programs and treatments. The result of this continuous work is the newest approach to Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness — the Ready and Resilient Campaign.

The R2C is the Army’s holistic approach to total health care and readiness enhancement for its Soldiers, Family members, and civilians, both on and off the battlefield. The major components of R2C are medical and personnel readiness that are filtered through nine major topic areas which include physical, environmental, behavioral, medical and dental, psychological, social, family, spiritual, and nutritional health. Each area further centers on sustaining, improving, and/or restoring good health while preventing illness and injury.

The Army’s R2C effort is addressing a variety of key areas of concern, including post-traumatic stress and mild traumatic brain injury recognition and treatment; and behavioral health.

The first thing to remember is post-traumatic stress is a human condition and treatable. There are a number of effective talk therapy and medication options available at Madigan Army Medical Center through its Behavioral Health Clinic. Treatment can result in a cure for some patients with PTS, but more often results in improvement in symptoms and improved functioning that helps the warrior and Family members achieve a healthy, productive life. Bottom line: it is OK to seek treatment.

Army Medicine leads the way in early recognition and treatment of traumatic brain injuries through advanced research and innovation. Army Medicine collaborates with, and leverages its partnerships with key Department of Defense and civilian organizations to improve its ability to diagnose, treat and care for those affected by TBI. In addition to a fully-staffed Neurology clinic at MAMC, there is a TBI Clinic located at Old Madigan that focuses strictly on treatment for TBI patients.

The Army and its health care professionals continually develop new techniques, policies and procedures to provide Soldiers, Family members and civilians with improved health care through efforts such as wellness centers, embedded behavior health, resiliency training and improved access for both Soldiers and Family members.

In addition to large-scale, Armywide efforts, the 7th Inf. Div. is going to great lengths to ensure Soldiers currently in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System receive world-class medical treatment, delivered with care and compassion. We have instituted the Personnel Readiness Review, a regularly recurring review by all commanders and relevant staff, designed to enhance personnel and medical readiness and to identify additional ways to mitigate challenges that affect our readiness. In addition to breaking down the stigma to seeking care, Army and 7th Inf. Div. leadership are working to establish an enduring cultural change that integrates resilience into how we assess, create and maintain Soldier fitness, individual performance and unit readiness.

Though challenging, the Army will always provide the best care possible to all of our warriors and their Families while managing the escalating cost of health care in a fiscally constrained environment.

The Army’s R2C initiative is adapting to the needs of Army 2020 campaign plan. We continue to care for all Soldiers and Family members no matter their health status as we move toward a model of health and wellness through all that we have learned and experienced from over 10 years of courageous service in combat.