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Highlights

Congress's long-standing interest in health care services for servicemembers returning from deployment has grown regarding National Guard and Reserve servicemembers because they are being activated in numbers not seen since World War II. For servicemembers who have been deployed overseas--whether National Guard, Reserve, or active duty--the Department of Defense (DOD) has developed a continuum of programs to assess servicemembers' health needs by obtaining information on their health concerns. One health assessment is administered before deployment, another about the time servicemembers return from deployment, and a third 90 to 180 days after deployment, which is called the post-deployment health reassessment (PDHRA). DOD directed the PDHRA to be implemented in June 2005 in response to studies that showed that health concerns were emerging several months after servicemembers' return from deployment. One intent of the PDHRA is to identify servicemembers' health concerns with a specific emphasis on screening for mental health and to assess whether servicemembers need referrals for further evaluation. PDHRAs can result in referrals being made to military treatment facilities, TRICARE providers, chaplains, Military OneSource, or Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, such as VA medical centers, VA community clinics, and Vet Centers. Congressional interest in health care services for National Guard and Reserve servicemembers returning from deployment has increased because of their large numbers and because they have reported post-deployment mental health concerns at a higher rate than their active duty counterparts, though this varies by military service. Related to this interest, Congress asked us to describe the administration of the PDHRA to National Guard and Reserve servicemembers. This report describes: (1) how DOD administers the PDHRA to National Guard and Reserve servicemembers and what information it obtains and (2) how VA interacts with DOD in the PDHRA process for these servicemembers and the information VA obtains.

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