VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System is hosting a day-long Post Deployment Health Re-Assessment at the Edward P. Boland main campus tomorrow, Saturday, July 21.
Headed by the Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn Transition and Care Management Team, the healthcare system will partner with the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s Medical Command in providing key services to one of the country’s oldest Army units.
Sarah McNary, the OEF/OIF/OND Transition and Care Management Team manager, said one of the event’s goals is to educate and enroll eligible Veterans into the healthcare system.
“The purpose of this event is to integrate VA services into the military medical readiness process so that service members are better aware of the resources available to them when they have injuries related to their service,” McNary said, noting that many service members slip through the cracks for VA care simply because they are unaware of the resources.
In addition to the service members receiving military medical support, McNary said participating service members would also learn about VA mental health services. She said at the core of the VA’s push to connect with service members was the goal of reaching out to members who might be at risk for suicide. “Our hope is to diminish suicide through collaborative, consistent engagement with service members and the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s medical command.”
Tomorrow’s Post Deployment Health Re-Assessment, or PDHRA, will start at:
7:30 a.m. with Army National Guard members arriving on the campus for an orientation before the day’s events begin.
The Massachusetts Army National Guard’s medical command will be on hand to lead the service members through medical screenings, which normally would occur on a military installation. This is the second time that this unit will be hosted on the Leeds campus of VA Central Massachusetts Healthcare System, and introduced to VA medical and mental health providers who will answer questions, and begin the process of orienting the service members to the services offered at the VA.
In addition to McNary’s team, VA providers from Primary Care, Environmental Exposure, Mental Health, Voluntary Services, Dental, the Vets Center, and Veteran Benefits Affairs, will be on hand to provide information and initial intake services to Veterans.
McNary and Dr. Dana Weaver, the chief of Mental Health at VA Central Western Mass., among other VA and Army leaders, will welcome the service members to the VA hospital campus, and orient the members regarding the day’s medical screening process.
“Our goal is to connect with service members long before they separate from the military,” said Dr. Weaver. “We know that the majority of Veterans who die by suicide each day were not engaged in care with us in the VA. We want to do all that we can to ensure that service members are aware of the resources and help they have available to them when they begin to transition to civilian life.”
More than 180 service members assigned to the Massachusetts Army National Guard, 181st Infantry Battalion, will be on hand for the Army and VA medical event.
The unit recently deployed in support of the War on Terror, and the military is mandated to screen its service members for medical and mental health issues upon return from deployments.
The 181st Infantry Battalion is the oldest combat regiment in the U.S. Army. The regiment was started in 1636 and participated in the American Revolution, American Civil War, War with Spain, Mexican Border Campaign, World War I, World War II, and in Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the global War On Terror. Most recently, the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry, was mobilized in 2017 for one year of multinational service in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.
For more information:
The event kicks off at 7:45 a.m. in the Learning Center of Building 1. The Edward P. Boland main campus is located at 421 North Main St., Leeds, Mass. … For additional information, please contact VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System Public Affairs Officer Andre Bowser at 413-333-6602, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.