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Review: Care for PTSD sufferers same for active duty or those leaving service

HEIDELBERG, Germany — A review of access to behavioral health care for U.S. troops in Europe found that troops with post-traumatic stress disorder were offered equivalent services, whether they were being discharged or returning to duty, according to the Europe Regional Medical Command.

“We took a thorough look at the behavior health services available at our facilities in the region and found soldiers transitioning out of the Army have the same access to care as those returning to duty,” said Brig. Gen. Nadja West, commander of the Europe Regional Medical Command, in a press release.

During the review, initiated in February, the ERMC inspector general examined services at all 17 ERMC military treatment facilities and interviewed soldiers in Warrior Transition units. The results were released Tuesday.

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The review was prompted by a complaint that soldiers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center who were returning to duty had better access to treatment for behavioral health issues than their counterparts who were in the process of medically separating from the Army.

“The review showed that is not the case, and that behavioral health services are available at all military treatment facilities in the region,” according to an ERMC news release.

In fact, soldiers leaving the Army for medical reasons, who are assigned to WTUs, in some cases have better access to psychological services, the news release said the review found.

Specifically at issue in the complaint to ERMC was the Evolution Program, an eight-week intensive outpatient PTSD treatment program at Landstuhl, and whether only soldiers returning to duty could enroll in the program.

“While it is designed primarily for those who will be remaining on active duty, soldiers early in the process of transitioning out of the Army for medical reasons have also been accepted to the program,” the review found.

“If a transitioning Soldier is accepted into the Evolution Program, their separation process stops until they complete the program because the medical separation process would interfere with the Evolution appointments,” the press release said.

“Each Soldier is looked at on an individual basis to determine the best course of treatment, whether through the Evolution Program or through treatment at a local military treatment facility.”

Although the investigation was begun after a single complaint, West said in the press release that it was worthwhile.

“When someone expresses a concern that one group isn’t getting access to needed treatment, we’re concerned as well,” West was quoted as saying. “We have a very important responsibility - taking care of America’s heroes - and it’s something we take pride in doing very well.”

montgomeryn@estripes.osd.mil

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