BALTIMORE, Md. (NNS) -- The Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) here screened 75 reservists in the Navy Reserve's implementation of the Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) program during the drill weekend of Jan. 20 and 21.
Cmdr. Jerry Hupp, NOSC commanding officer, called the event "a great achievement" and emphasized that it was all about showing his Sailors that "the Navy cares about their health."
"The PDHRA is the 'safety net' of the deployment health surveillance continuum," explained Navy Reserve Medical Service Corps Officer Cmdr. Maurice Morales, who is responsible for program oversight in the Navy Reserve.
"We've learned from experience that some health issues and concerns aren't apparent at the time that members return from deployment or are demobilized," Morales said. "We screen them at that time with the post-deployment health assessment (PDHA), and then we screen them again 90 to 180 days later using the PDHRA."
The PDHRA program was established by Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, in March 2005. However, he made the program retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001. For service members who redeployed or demobilized after March 2004, the program is mandatory; for those who deployed earlier it is optional but strongly encouraged.
Dr. Fred Glogower, a retired Navy captain and psychologist who is the program manager at the Navy Bureau of Medicine, remarked that, "The Navy and Marine Corps began to implement this program in the summer of 2005, and -- now that we have more resources -- it is expanding significantly. For the Navy Reserve, we have site visits scheduled for NOSCs at Fort Dix, N.J., Chicago, Norfolk and San Diego; and we are working collaboratively with Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command (CNRFC) to plan site visits at other large NOSCs across the country in the next few months."
In addition to the site visit events, which are conducted by Logistics Health, Inc. (LHI) of La Crosse, Wis., under a Department of Defense contract with health affairs, reservists can also complete the screening over the phone by contacting a call center that is also operated by LHI.
"Eligible reservists should check with their medical department representative to find out which method is being used to conduct the screenings at the NOSC where they drill," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Cory Drone, of the Force Health Protection and Readiness office at CNRFC.
One advantage of site visit events is that they are supported by representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
"We can counsel reservists about their benefits, and in most cases even enroll them and make health care appointments for them," said John O'Brien, social work executive with the VA Maryland Health Care System, who organized the VA support for the Baltimore event.
According to Morales, of the 75 Reservists who were screened in Baltimore, 20 were referred for further evaluation of a deployment-related health condition by the LHI contract providers.
"That is a lower referral rate than we were expecting," he said. "Even if it had only been one it would have given us the opportunity to demonstrate that Navy medicine will do whatever is necessary to take care of our Sailors' health," he added.
The Navy Medicine PDHRA Homepage is located at http://www-nehc.med.navy.mil/pdhra.
For related news, visit the Naval Medicine Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/mednews/.