Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island
VA Medical Center Hosts PDHRA for Returning Soldiers
This past weekend, July 14-15, 88 members of A Company, 1-182d Infantry of the Rhode Island National Guard conducted their Post-Deployment Health Reassessment at the Providence VA Medical Center. The event was the second Post-Deployment Health Reassessment conducted this year at the Providence VAMC. The last one was conducted on May 5 with Company F, 1/126th Aviation.
A Post-Deployment Health Reassessment, or PDHRA, is a comprehensive health screening that examines for physical and behavioral health concerns associated with deployment. It gives Soldiers an opportunity to proactively identify and then (if needed) treat deployment-related health problems that may impact daily life, families, careers, and futures. Back aches, sore knees, and sleeplessness may seem like "normal" issues, but they could be symptoms of a larger health concern. A timely PDHRA is vital to identifying deployment-related health issues early before they develop into more serious issues. That is why the PDHRA is completed 90 to 180 days after redeployment because research indicates this is when symptoms of deployment-related health concerns may appear.
During the course of this PDHRA, each Soldier received resiliency training, underwent a comprehensive health assessment, and was offered the opportunity to establish VA healthcare. Just like every other Veteran who establishes care with the VA, these Soldiers underwent what, in VA lingo, is called a vesting examination which includes a primary care screen as well as mental health and traumatic brain injury (TBI) screens. They were enrolled in My HealtheVet and received a VA healthcare ID Card. They also were afforded the opportunity to meet with benefits advisors, a health promotion and disease prevention nurse, a Vet Center counselor, and a Wounded Warrior Project representative. The VA Canteen Service prepared and served breakfast, courtesy of the Wounded Warrior Project, as well as lunch (American Chop Suey) courtesy of the Rhode Island National Guard.
Conducting a successful PDHRA is a team effort—from doctors, nurses, and health technicians, to psychologists, social workers, and x-ray technicians; from benefits, eligibility, and enrollment counselors, to support staff from the RI National Guard; from Canteen chefs and facilities management staff, to outside agencies like the Wounded Warrior Project: all total, there were 78 people who volunteered their time and expertise.
“This PDHRA ran even more smoothly and effectively than the last one,” says Rochelle Fortin, OEF/OIF/OND Program Manager. “The key,” Rochelle adds, “is the pre-planning and the organization of the event as well as having trained staffed who are experts in their field. Each employee has a very important role in the process…it was amazing just to watch all the pieces move so seamlessly and efficiently!” Master Sergeant Lee-Ann Lyons, Health Services Supervisor with the Guard, agrees. She’s pleased with what this coordinated effort provides to the Soldiers of the Rhode Island National Guard. “I asked the Soldiers whether they would have come and used the VA on their own if we had not conducted the event at the VA this weekend. Many said no. Now, however, they seem more than willing to do so; they realize that they have far more benefits than they had realized. That, in itself, makes this event worth its weight in gold.”
The next PDHRA at the Providence VA Medical Center is scheduled for September 8 with the 43rd Military Police Company.
Soldiers of A Company, 1-182d Infantry returned this past March from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan where they performed a security forces mission in support of provincial construction teams.