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Check-up for combat vets screens for mental health issues

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in Philadelphia and Coatesville will perform a mass check-up this weekend.

(Photo: Soldiers from the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team near Baghdad in July 2009 / / CC BY 2.0)

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Each hospital is expecting 400 combat veterans who recently returned from Iraq. They’re members of the Army National Guard’s 56th Stryker Brigade. The Pentagon orders these check ups three to six months after troops return from a deployment.

Stacey Castel with the Coatesville VA says healthcare professionals will screen for various problems, including mental health:

Castel: Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues that would be associated with their transition back to civilian life after their military deployment.

Castel says the timing is based on when problems typically show up:

Castel: Sometimes the deployment-related issues don’t appear until 90 – 180 days post deployment, so they want to make sure that they don’t assess the soldier too soon, or after these things have affected their lives in a tremendous way.

Castel says soldiers who are experiencing problems can get care the same day.

Major Cory Angell of the National Guard says screening for mental health issues is important, as the transition into civilian life can be difficult:

Angell: You come back home, and really it’s a completely different environment, and I think it takes you some time just to slow down a little bit. You’re back with your family which is great, but there can even be some readjustments there on their part, and you gotta get back in and find your place again.

Members of the Stryker Brigade say they welcome the joint checkup as a chance to connect with people with whom they’ve shared many experiences.

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