Rochelle Fortin, OEF/OIF/OND Coordinator with a soldier from Company F, 1/126th Aviation of the Rhode Island National Guard during the May PDHRA held at the Providence VAMC.
"Everybody close your eyes for a moment. Take a deep breath. Hold it, and count to five. Now exhale. One more time. Take a deep breath. Hold it, and count to five. Now exhale."
A yoga class? Not quite. Rather, this breathing exercise is part of the Army's resiliency training-a key component of post-deployment reintegration. This past Saturday, May 5, Company F, 1/126th Aviation of the Rhode Island National Guard, conducted their Post-Deployment Health Reassessment at the Providence VA Medical Center.
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.
In addition to resiliency training, each soldier also underwent a comprehensive health assessment and 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 a benefits advisor, a caregiver support coordinator, a women’s program manager, a health promotion and disease prevention nurse, a Vet Center counselor, and a wounded warrior project representative. Lunch was included in the package, as the soldiers were treated to American Chop Suey courtesy of the VA Canteen Service.
"The event on Saturday was a great success, " says Rochelle Fortin, OEF/OIF/OND Program Manager. "Everyone from Colonel Brian Trapani (J1-Director of Military Personnel from the Rhode Island National Guard) on down the chain had good things to say about the event.” At the end of the day, each soldier filled out a satisfaction survey. The responses were very positive with many kudos for the staff and volunteers. The Soldiers liked the idea of the Medical Center hosting the PDHRA—“one stop shopping is great.”
Conducting a successful PDHRA is a team effort. Not only were there staff from the OEF/OIF/OND Clinic but also from Primary Care, Nursing, Social Work, Mental Health, Patient Services, Facilities Management, the Providence VA Regional Office, and the Warwick Vet Center. Additionally, several volunteers were amazingly helpful.
Last Saturday’s event was the first PDHRA conducted a the Providence VA Medical Center. Colonel Trapani and J1 PDHRA Manager Sergeant Nicholas Costa have requested the VA host all future PDHRA. The next PDHRA is scheduled for July.
The mission of Company F, 1/126th Aviation is to provide Aeromedical Evacuation and Support within the theater of operations. They are located at the Quonset Armor in North Kingston, Rhode Island. They recently redeployed from Afghanistan in January.