Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: 'Health' (52) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 52

November 5, 2013 at 10:57pm

Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire: From the fire emerges healing

With Connor McClelland's encouragement, Staff Sgt. Bruce Kandle blows glass while Staff Sgt. Jennifer Cox watches. Both Warrior Transition Battalion soldiers are taking part in the Museum of Glass' Hot Shop Heroes program. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

In his play Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus (525 B.C.) writes that Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to the human race in order to create civilizations.

For his act, Prometheus was bound to a mountain from which he eventually escaped.

But the gift he gave humanity keeps on giving.

The Museum of Glass located in downtown Tacoma has partnered with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) to host a Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire program that allows soldiers the opportunity to develop self-confidence and physical skills as they transition back to active duty or civilian life.

"It is about collaboration, camaraderie and support," Joanna Sikes, the museum's director of external affairs, said.

"These soldiers are working within a circle of peers in an exciting and dangerous environment who have never lost sight of the mission."

Molten glass, 2100-degree heat and teamwork on the part of a dozen soldiers is what photographer J.M. Simpson captured tonight.

>>> Spc. Cory Owens, Spc. Tony Truong and Sgt. Ronnie Bernardo, Warrior Transition Battalion, make glass beads as part of the Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire hosted by the Museum of Glass.

>>> Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire hosted by the Museum of Glass works with JBLM Soldiers in building life skills for a successful return to active duty or transition to civilian life.

>>> Sgt. Lee O'Guin and Maj. Kathleen Steele watch as Sgt. Austin Baker creates a cup from molten glass.

>>> Spc. Tong Truong, Warrior Transition Battalion, looks closely at different pieces of green glass before melting it.

>>> Staff Sgt. Bruce Kandle watches as a molten piece of glass is rolled at the end of a punty, a rod used to blow the glass into a desired shape.

>>> Artist Patricia Davidson works with Spc. Cory Owens and Sgt. Ronnie Bernardo as they learn to create glass beads.

See Also

JBLM Warrior Transition Battalion teams with Museum of Glass on pilot program

July 16, 2013 at 12:49pm

Saving lives through education at JBLM

U.S. Army Pvt. Mauricio Chavarria, right, a mortar operator with the 2-1 Infantry Regiment, 2-2 SBCT uses a drunk-driving simulator as instructor Chris Rich gives him guidance at JBLM. Photo credit: Sgt. Memory Payne

When Zach Peters was 6 years old, his father lost control of his truck, causing it to flip three times and putting Peters in the hospital for three days. His father was drunk.

Sgt. Peters, now an Apache helicopter technical inspector with 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, was lucky to survive. Not everyone affected by drunk driving is so fortunate.
To help combat drinking and driving, The Save a Life Tour, which travels across the country to military installations, colleges and high schools, stopped at Joint Base Lewis-McChord July 8-12 to educate soldiers on the risk of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.


July 11, 2013 at 10:48am

Today in Did This Really Need To Be Stated?

The Human Rights Campaign - America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality - released a statement coinciding with a press conference today at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., stating American hospitals and clinics are increasingly committed to equality for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients. Their report states 718 healthcare facilities nationwide, including 121 veterans' medical centers, have explicitly pledged themselves to equal treatment for LGBT patients. Here are a few graphs from the report:

The report details the results of the most recent Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The 718 facilities included in the HEI 2013 represent a 153 percent increase in participation over last year's survey. An unprecedented 74 percent of HEI 2013 respondents won recognition as "Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality" after meeting four foundational criteria for equitable LGBT care, a 199 percent increase in facilities achieving this status.

In a major breakthrough, 121 of the nation's 151 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical centers participated in the HEI 2013, compared to just one VHA participant in the HEI 2012. Nearly 80 percent of the participating VHA facilities were awarded Equality Leader status in the HEI 2013, as they sought to welcome LGBT veterans who have served their country.

"We were pleased to have this opportunity to foster a more inclusive environment for our LGBT Veterans and their families," said Robert L. Jesse, MD, PhD, VHA Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health. "Our participation in the HEI 2013 exemplifies our untiring efforts in the pursuit of health equity for all of our veterans."

You mean you weren't committed to equality before? You didn't give those who served our country proper consideration and care?

Filed under: Veterans, Health,

June 27, 2013 at 10:10am

Madigan opens two behavioral health home teams

This arrived at Northwest Military's World Headquarters from the Madigan Public Affairs Office. ...

MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Tacoma, Wash. - Nearly all active duty Soldiers on Joint Base Lewis-McChord will now receive behavioral health care off the main Madigan campus with the addition of two new behavioral health home teams.  

The Denali and Yukon behavioral health home teams located in the Madigan Annex join five established brigade-level embedded behavioral health teams and the McChord Behavioral Health Home team in providing dedicated behavioral health care aligned with assigned units on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"Behavioral health teams are, by design, able to provide dedicated services to their assigned units improving continuity of care and provider communication with commanders," said Col. (Dr.) Dallas Homas, Madigan commander.  "Feedback on this model of care has been exceptionally positive and I believe this restructuring will continue to fuel the encouraging changes we've seen in defeating the stigma associated with seeking behavioral health services."

In addition to today's opening of the new Madigan home teams in the hospital's annex, a third clinic, the Glacier Clinic, will open in Madigan's main hospital.

This clinic will offer subspecialty behavioral health services like neuropsychology, health psychology, tele-behavioral health and administrative behavioral health services.

June 24, 2013 at 1:54pm

VA's "Take the Step" campaign raises PTSD awareness

Follow the Take The Step campaign at

War is hell. Soldiers in the battle zone see, hear and smell things they can barely discuss with their own squad let alone anyone at home. The stress and anxiety causes some returning warriors to hurt those they love. It creates drug and alcohol dependency. It builds barriers that even 72-year-old veterans still can't hurdle.

During World Wars I and II it was called shell shock. In Korea and Vietnam it was known as battle fatigue. Since then, soldiers and their therapists have called the condition that literally emotionally and physically debilitates a returning warrior Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

In observance of post-traumatic stress disorder awareness month, the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD invites the public to participate in its "Take the Step" campaign.

"Every day of the year, we should focus on assisting those who have served our Nation," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki in a statement.  "In June, during PTSD awareness month, we take special care to help Veterans with PTSD.  VA is a leader in providing state-of-the-art, high-quality mental health care that improves and saves Veterans' lives.  PTSD treatment can help and there is hope for recovery for Veterans who need mental health services."

Below are more details on the "Take the Step" campaign via at VA press release.


Filed under: Health, Veterans, PTSD,

June 18, 2013 at 1:05pm

DoD directed sequestration and civilian furlough effects on Madigan

It's an ugly word, one that only Washington, D.C. could come up with. But for many at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, it will be an even uglier reality.

The furlough cuts that resulted from the inability of Congress and the White House to compromise during the 2011 debt-limit standoff will officially hit Madigan Army Medial Center Monday, July 8. The DoD directives, causing longer wait times, through Sept. 30, will impact all services.

The McChord Medical, Internal medicine, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, Radiology and Madigan's Laboratory, will remain open during the week, but patients may experience longer wait times due to reduced staffing.

Patients will have more time with their smartphones at Madigan pharmacies. Madigan's Outpatient Pharmacy will close Saturdays July 13-Sept. 28. The Mini-Mall Pharmacy will close Tuesdays July 9-Sept. 24. The drive-through window will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

TGIF won't apply to Madigan Family Medicine, including Okubo and Winder clinics. From July 12-Sept. 27 those offices will be closed.

The Allergy/Immunology Clinic will nix Friday walk-in vaccinations and shots.

Audiology Clinic will not listen to walk-in hearing aid repairs Mondays or Fridays.

Orthotics will ironically not allow walk-ins or issue orthotic supplies on Fridays.

Sadly, the Wound Care Clinics will not take walk-ins Tuesdays or Fridays, with longer wait times Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Even the Provost Marshal offices will be closed Fridays July 12-Sept. 27.

Obviously, Madigan is sick about these changes. The Regional Appointment Center will still take calls at 1.800.404.4506 and Madigan's Emergency Room will be fully operational 24/7.

June 3, 2013 at 2:18pm

VA is improving access for veterans to mental health services

Cheryl Pellerin of the American Forces Press Service has followed Pres. Obama's statements today concerning improving access for veterans to mental health services.

"We're ... doing more to support our troops and our veterans who are suffering from things like traumatic brain injury or PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder," the president told the audience. "Today, we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide - 22. We've got to do a better job ... of preventing these all-too-often silent tragedies. That's why we've poured an enormous amount of resources into high-quality care and better treatment for our troops."

In response to a presidential executive order, VA has hired 1,600 mental health providers and more than 300 peer-to-peer veteran specialists, according to a White House statement.

Read Pellerin's full report here.

Filed under: Veterans, Benefit, Health,

May 24, 2013 at 1:26pm

Warning: TRICARE program policy requires electronic payment now

Attention Servicemembers and retirees enrolled in either TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) or TRICARE Retired Reserve (TRR): Changes to the TRICARE program policy requires TRS and TRR beneficiaries to establish an automated method for payment of monthly premiums and discontinues the acceptance of checks as a form of monthly payment.

UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans is attempting to reach all of those who have yet to complete an electronic payment authorization form so that they are not disenrolled because of non-payment.

If these members do not get their paperwork submitted by May 28, 2013, they will be considered out of compliance and as such, they could be disenrolled for a lack of payment from TRS and TRR, respectively. This means that their TRICARE accounts would be suspended as of June 1. Additionally, failure to comply with the automated method of payment requirement also triggers a 12-month lockout that will be applied from the last paid-through date.

Unfortunately, in spite of multiple notifications over the last few months about this new mandatory requirement, approximately 15,000 TRS and TRR members in the West Region have yet to submit the appropriate paperwork.

A copy of the electronic payment authorization form can be downloaded from To expedite requests, Servicemembers can also fax their information to (877) 890-7297.

Filed under: Health, Veterans, Benefit,

May 6, 2013 at 11:03am

"60 Minutes" piece on traumatic brain injury and the military

Traumatic brain injury is one of the largest injuries suffered in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

It's a condition once known as being "punch drunk" because it affected boxers who suffered multiple blows to the head. In the National Football League, head injuries are a growing occupational hazard for the hard-hitting sport because players are bigger, faster and more powerful than ever.

More often than not, the head injuries suffered during military conflict make the blow pro athletes take seem like a slap in the face. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant health issue that affects service members and veterans during times of both peace and war. The high rate of TBI and blast-related concussion events resulting from current combat operations directly impacts the health and safety of individual service members and subsequently the level of unit readiness and troop retention.

According to a 60 Minutes report "invisible wounds of war," 250,000 members of the Armed Forces have suffered concussions or much worse in the last decade during wars. It's an important piece for TBI patients, veterans and their families and worthy of viewing.

LINK: Read the 60 Minutes report text

Filed under: Health, Special Report, Veterans,

July 31, 2012 at 4:28pm

Army announces changes at Madigan Army Medical Center

(WASHINGTON) -- Gen. Lloyd Austin, Army vice chief of staff, announced today that the United States Army has changed how it reviews cases of Soldiers in Madigan Army Medical Center's (MAMC) disability evaluation system who have been diagnosed with PTSD. The change comes following an exhaustive review of the hospital's disability evaluation system directed by Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, after it was learned that some Soldiers diagnosed with PTSD had that finding rejected during a subsequent evaluation at MAMC.

In April, 2012, Austin designated Lt. Gen. David Perkins, commander of the Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, to serve as director of the Army's Task Force on Behavioral Health.  In that capacity, Perkins conducted a review of behavioral health policies and procedures related to the disability evaluation system at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Western Regional Medical Command.  Perkins consulted with senior leaders, MAMC health care providers, staff, physical evaluation board liaison officers and Soldiers going through the disability evaluation system, working to gain a better understanding of the forensic psychiatric methods - used by MAMC - in the integrated disability evaluation system and provided input to inform Gen. Austin's review.

"What we found is that the forensic methods are not the right ones for the United States Army disability evaluation system," Austin said, noting that new policies and procedures are in place to review PTSD cases.  "We learned MAMC officials acted in accordance with the standard of practice for civilian disability evaluations.  But we also learned that while the evaluation may be fair and appropriate, it's simply not optimal for the unique cases that the Army diagnoses and reviews.  We've fixed that."

The MAMC developed the forensic psychiatry service to perform a variety of functions - including completing behavioral health evaluations on Soldiers in the disability evaluation system - to make the most accurate diagnosis possible.  The forensic psychiatry service conducted a thorough review of each case, applying a strict interpretation of the diagnostic criteria found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR), the accepted national standard. 

The Army determined that, while forensic psychiatric methods are appropriate under certain circumstances, they do not work well in the disability evaluation system.  As a result of this determination, the Army discontinued its use as part of the disability evaluation system. 

Austin acknowledged the role of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in bringing problems with the evaluation process to the Army's attention.

"The fact that Senator Murray's constituents brought their concerns to her regarding our evaluation process provided the impetus to look at our entire system," Austin said.  "Our health care delivery will be better for it."

Army medical leaders are conducting a series of comprehensive reviews of behavioral health processes at all medical treatment facilities, including MAMC.  

The Army has extended the review of behavioral health diagnoses and evaluation processes in the disability evaluation system by establishing the Army's Task Force on Behavioral Health.  The Task Force is developing a corrective action plan to ensure diagnosis and evaluation best practices are in place Army-wide.  

Austin further announced that he has reinstated Col. Dallas Homas as commander of Madigan Army Medical Center (MAMC), after determining that Homas did not inappropriately influence Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnoses.  Homas had been temporarily removed as commander while the Army reviewed the hospital's handling of PTSD cases.

"The Army takes very seriously any allegation regarding the health care of our soldiers, and the leaders who provide it," Austin said.  "My review found that Col. Homas did not exert any undue influence over PTSD diagnoses, and that he acted appropriately enforcing standard medical guidelines.  He is, therefore, being returned to duty effective immediately."

Austin also expressed confidence in Homas's leadership of MAMC, as the Army implements new practices and processes to assess Soldiers in the disability evaluation system.  

"Col. Homas began his tenure at MAMC at a critical juncture, as the hospital faced a massive deficit, declining numbers of patients served, and other organizational problems," he said.  "His leadership was important to improving MAMC and I am confident that he is the leader our medical community needs to implement these new systems and ensure world class care for our Soldiers and their families."    

Filed under: Army News, Health, Madigan,

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