Veteran’s mental health report recognized

The Academy Health Board of Directors honored Invisible Wounds of War, an extensive study by the RAND Corporation into the conditions of returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq, with its 2011 Health Services Research Impact Award on February 9.

From April 2007 to January 2008, the RAND Corporation, in a “first-of-its-kind comprehensive study,” examined the mental health system for veterans returning with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and depression, according to a release from the Academy Health Board of Directors. It found that 19.5 percent of the soldiers had TBI, while another 18.5 percent were inflicted with PTSD, sparking extensive media coverage and congressional hearings. Only half of veterans needing treatment sought care, and of that group, only half received “minimally adequate care.”

The nearly 500-page report recommended changes in the health care system infrastructure to accommodate mental health treatment, changed policies and practices to encourage veterans to seek out care, an expansion of mental health coverage and new research investments to close knowledge gaps. Educational pamphlets were sent to veterans and their families.

Shortly after the report’s release, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates “finalized modifications to the Department of Defense security clearance application to diminish potential stigma associated with psychological care” and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs called for screenings of all veterans and mandatory face-to-face evaluations.