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Military will address health care; will mental health be part of the strategy?

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:32pm

The Department of Defense says it's trying finalize its 2008 plans for ensuring top quality healthcare for all service members and beneficiaries.

Noticeably left out of that declaration is any discussion of mental health - despite the fact that thousands of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to develop symptoms for post-traumatic stress disorder within the next decade.

"Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Gates charged me with being the guarantor of quality healthcare for service members, retirees and their families," said Dr. S. Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. "Quality healthcare is the Secretary's top goal, apart from the war itself."

The DOD first discussed its " MHS Strategic Plan" at a Washington D.C. conference in January. All of the presentations for the conference were aligned with the plan's goals and objectives, Pentagon officials said, including:

  • Enhance deployable medical capability, force medical readiness and homeland defense ,including humanitarian missions;
  • Sustain the military health benefit through top quality patient-centered care and long-term patient partnerships with a focus on prevention;
  • Provide globally accessible, real time, health information that enables medical surveillance and evidence-based health care;
  • Provide incentives to achieve quality in everything;
  • Build and sustain the best hospitals and clinics; nurture a caring environment.
Casscells and conference organizers also expect to raise awareness among military and civilian communities worldwide regarding the value of military medicine - not only in combat care, but in research, education, international healthcare and humanitarian relief, the Pentagon said.

"The conference agenda is ambitious," Casscells said. "But it's the right event at the right time to energize our commitment to quality care throughout the entire enterprise."
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