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Highlights

The Department of Defense (DOD) implemented the post-deployment health reassessment (PDHRA), which is required to be administered to servicemembers 90 to 180 days after their return from deployment. DOD established the PDHRA program to identify and address servicemembers' health concerns that emerge over time following deployments. This report is the second in response to a Senate Armed Services Committee report directing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review DOD's administration of the PDHRA, and to additional congressional requests. In this report, GAO examined (1) the extent to which DOD's central repository contains PDHRA questionnaires for active and Reserve component servicemembers who returned from deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan and (2) how DOD monitors the administration of the PDHRA to Reserve component servicemembers. To conduct this review, GAO performed a quantitative analysis using DOD deployment and PDHRA data, reviewed relevant PDHRA policies, and interviewed DOD officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. To help DOD obtain reasonable assurance that all active and Reserve component servicemembers to whom the PDHRA requirement applies are provided the opportunity to have their health concerns identified, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and the military services should take steps to ensure that PDHRA questionnaires are included in DOD's central repository for each of these servicemembers.
Closed - Implemented
In its comments to this report, the Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with this recommendation. In October 2009, DOD's Force Health Protection and Response Office sent a memo to each of the military service Surgeons General emphasizing the need for the post-deployment health reassessment (PDHRA) to be offered to all service members who are eligible to complete the assessment. In 2010, DOD noted that the services would work with the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) repository to ensure PDHRAs are submitted correctly, without transmission errors. DOD's 2011 case records showed that the Air Force and Army had developed data verification processes to ensure that AFHSC received PDHRAs. As of September 2020, Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center officials reported that data transmission verification processes had been developed to ensure PDHRAs are successfully transmitted to the central repository. As a result, all of the Services now have processes in place to transfer, and confirm transfer, of deployment health assessments to the central repository.
Department of Defense 2. To ensure adequate documentation of problems that may pose risks to the objective of the PDHRA program for Reserve component servicemembers, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs should require the RHRP office to document the information obtained through monitoring the PDHRA program in a manner consistent with federal internal control standards.
Closed - Implemented
DOD's Reserve Health Readiness Program (RHRP) office had relied on four methods to monitor the Logistics Health, Inc. (LHI)administration of the Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) to Reserve component service members. However, using these methods, the office did not always clearly document its monitoring of the PDHRA program. To ensure adequate documentation of problems that could pose risks to the objective of the PDHRA program for Reserve component service members, GAO recommended that the RHRP office document the information obtained through monitoring the PDHRA program in a manner consistent with federal internal control standards. The DAMIS record states that the RHRP office has revised the way it documents its monitoring of the PDHRA program so that others can understand concerns raised, the actions taken to address concerns, and the ultimate resolution of the concerns. The electronic email filing system has been revised so pertinent messages can quickly be found. The RHRP office has also established an electronic system so others, in addition to the assigned PDHRA official, can access information regarding identified concerns and their resolution. In addition, we obtained documentation from RHRP offices that supports this.

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