CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Since December, more than 1,000 U.S. servicemembers injured in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and elsewhere throughout Central Command have been returned to active duty after rehabilitation at this Army camp.

The Army’s 1st Medical Brigade stood up the Theater Transient Hold Detachment (TTHD) 10 months ago to give military personnel more time to recover from injuries without leaving Central Command, said Maj. John Miller, the brigade’s medical regulating officer.

Patients in the detachment have 30 days to return to active duty; otherwise they must be evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany, Miller said.

But in the past, if a soldier in Iraq, for example, had a hernia and could not perform his job because he could not wear protective gear, he would probably be evacuated out of the theater. “If they did the surgical intervention up north, they would exceed the evacuation policy of 7 days, 15 days, or whatever it is,” Miller said. “We have increased that for select personnel … so that we can keep as many servicemembers as far forward as possible.”

Troops evacuated to Germany have about a one-in-four chance of returning to their deployed unit, Miller said, while the TTHD’s return-to-duty rate is about 76 percent. That is due in part to the type of injuries treated. Patients with more traumatic injuries go to Landstuhl, while the TTHD accepts servicemembers needing minor procedures, such as a cardiac stress test or surgery to repair a torn ligament.

“If you look at who’s fighting the war over here, they have diseases that you may not have seen, young people getting chest pains,” said Navy Capt. C. Forrest Faison, Expeditionary Medical Facility (EMF) Kuwait commanding officer. “If you send them back to Landstuhl, they’re gone. If you send them to me, they’re gone for a day or two, so we can do the evaluation.”

The TTHD works with patients who receive medical treatment at the U.S. Military Hospital-Kuwait, part of EMF-Kuwait. The staff places patients in temporary quarters after they’re discharged from the hospital and provides them transportation to follow-up appointments and physical therapy at the out-patient Troop Medical Clinic.

“We allow them to stay acclimated to the weather and we have liaison officers from every major unit up in Iraq located on this camp,” Miller said

By October, the Navy, which runs the hospital, was to take over TTHD from the Army. The new Navy Medical Task Force-Kuwait will oversee healthcare at all Army camps in Kuwait.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now