(Washington, D.C.) -- The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science today released the results of yet another study which assesses PTSD treatment programs and services in both the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. This hefty, 380-page report, Treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Military and Veteran Populations: Initial Assessment, is the first of two mandated by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010.
While VVA commends the IOM Committee for its hard work in summarizing information from both VA and DoD, a careful reading of this newest report can find many of its recommendations for PTSD assessment and treatment re-worded from IOM and RAND reports of five and six years ago. As an example, one "new" implementation recommendation calls for the departments to "encourage and support the use of evidence-based methods for PTSD screening, treatment, and rehabilitation." This recommendation has appeared in at least two previous IOM reports and has been a VVA rallying cry to both agencies and Congressional committees for the last decade.
One new recommendation that VVA applauds, however, is important to note: "To study the efficacy of treatment and to move toward measurement-based PTSD care in the DoD and VA, assessment data should be collected before, during, and after treatment, and should be entered into patients' medical records…." It is the fervent hope of VVA that both departments will finally adopt actual outcome metrics for use with each individual patient instead of just collecting numbers of individuals who enter, pass through, or drop out of treatment programs.
Otherwise, VVA finds little new in this latest IOM report other than the addition of specific recommendations involving Military Sexual Trauma, PTSD, and co-morbidities. However, VVA holds out hope that these recommendations will at last be taken seriously by both DoD and the VA and implemented to aid our soldiers and veterans suffering from this insidious malady of war.
It will take strong leadership on the parts of President Obama and Secretaries Panetta and Shinseki to ensure that these recommendations are actually taken to heart and integrated into the treatment and services provided by both departments. Maybe then more mental demons in more troops and vets can be lessened.