A new medical conference launched this week for healthcare practitioners who help war veterans deal with combat stress, depression, anxiety, and brain injuries.
The first-ever Combat Stress Conference--held October 17 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Eagan, Minn.—was attended by 350 physicians, nurses, and psychiatrists who serve the behavioral healthcare needs of the 13,000 members of the Minnesota National Guard. Since 2001, more than 80 percent of the members have been mobilized for active duty, serving in 33 different countries. Nearly 2,600 Minnesota National Guard members completed their deployments to Iraq and returned home in August.
The conference was sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, and the Minnesota VA Medical Center. It is intended to help providers identify and treat deployment-related symptoms, which can appear immediately upon return or months or years later.
"Health care professionals need to understand the unique health care needs a veteran brings to them," said Chaplain Lt. Col. John J. Morris, Minnesota National Guard, in a statement. "For example, a veteran may be depressed, experiencing nightmares and flashbacks, or have difficulty concentrating. We're asking providers to learn how to recognize the signs of combat stress and address those issues when they are treating a combat veteran."
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of On Killing: The Psychological Costs of Learning to Kill in War and Society, was the keynote. Grossman's book explores the reactions of healthy people in circumstances that require killing others (such as police and military in combat) and the factors that enable and restrain killing in these situations.