Report at a Glance
Evidence-Based Diagnostics and Therapies and Long-Term Forecasts of Needs Among Steps Necessary to Ease Iraq and Afghanistan Service Members' Readjustment to Post-Deployment Life
To improve the ability of military service members and their families to readjust well to post-deployment life, the U.S. departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs should ensure that their systems have sufficient capacity to provide timely and adequate care to service members, veterans, and family members, and boost efforts to reduce the stigma associated with getting care for mental health and substance abuse problems, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. DOD and VA also should ensure that they are using diagnostic tools and therapies that are in line with the latest medical evidence. In addition, the departments should complete work as soon as possible on a combined, interoperable electronic health record that will help service members and veterans more easily navigate the services offered by each department and ease the transition from one to the other.
To better serve the needs of the full range of military personnel and families, DOD and VA need to take into account the increasing diversity of this population as the number of women in the armed forces rises and nontraditional families become increasingly common. DOD should intensify its efforts to eliminate sexual harassment and assault, a problem that affects a significant percentage of current and former female service members and can have lingering emotional and health consequences, the report says, and the department should add criteria to commanding officers' performance reviews that assess how well they deal with harassment and assault. DOD also should ensure that its support programs address the needs of the full range of families, which increasingly include unmarried partners, same-sex couples, single parents, and stepfamilies. Support services have largely focused on married, heterosexual couples and their children.