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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 288-03
April 29, 2003

DOD ENHANCES POST-DEPLOYMENT HEALTH ASSESSMENTS

The Department of Defense announced today its plan to enhance the post-deployment health assessment process. One improvement is a more comprehensive examination that will better assist medical personnel in evaluating the health of returning servicemembers. The new form is an enhanced version of the previous tool, designed to gather more information from deployed servicemembers about events that occurred during a deployment. Health assessments will be conducted face-to-face with trained health care providers and will include discussion and documentation of specific items. In addition to the health assessment, blood samples will be taken within 30 days of leaving the theater. The blood samples will be forwarded to the DoD Serum Repository for archival purposes. These enhancements are just one piece of the total force health protection program that includes increased environmental surveillance, electronic medical record keeping and improved unit location data.

"The Department of Defense's force health protection program is constantly evolving based on advancements in medical practice, new technology and lessons learned from deployments. The enhanced post-deployment health assessments and the new blood draw procedures are a result of that process," said William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. "The physical and mental health of our servicemembers is essential to overall force readiness."

This is a commander's program. Commanders are responsible for complete redeployment processing of their personnel and helping each individual to make a smooth, post-deployment transition, according to DoD guidelines. Because deployment health concerns often evolve over time, commanders also encourage their returning servicemembers to visit with health care providers to address all deployment related health concerns.

The complete force health protection program, including regular blood tests, regular physical examinations, annual dental examinations, annual medical record reviews and pre- and post-deployment health assessments, assists DoD in providing a world-class continuum of care from accession to separation.

Further information regarding the DoD force health protection program can be found at http://www.ha.osd.mil/fhpr/.

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