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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 help current and former military personnel of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families readjust to post-deployment life, the U.S. departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs need to gather information to answer many uncertainties, including how many mental health care providers are needed and where, what works best in treating traumatic brain injury over the long term, and whether giving service members time to decompress before returning home would be beneficial, says a new IOM report.