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South Dakota Health Care Providers to Learn About PTSD at TriWest and VA-Sponsored Conference

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Feb. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), one in six returning service members will develop PTSD or other combat stress-related disorders. Affected service members may suffer memory loss, irritability, depression, trouble sleeping and other challenges within 60 to 90 days post deployment, but these symptoms may occur earlier or later. If left untreated, symptoms could cause serious physical and mental health problems for service members and their families.

To address and support the health care needs of South Dakota's military families, TriWest Healthcare Alliance and U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers in South Dakota (Sioux Falls and Black Hills) are hosting a "Combat Stress-related Disorders" videoconference on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008. The videoconference will last from 1 until 4 p.m. CST (noon to 3 p.m. MST).

The videoconference will bring together nearly 150 community-based physicians, nurses, psychiatrists and other health care professionals that care for service members and their families. The providers will learn to identify symptoms of PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other combat-stress disorders, as well as treatment methods.

Key conference presenters are Paul Rentz, Ph.D., staff psychologist at Sioux Falls VA Medical Center; and Ashok V. Kumar, M.D., director of Sleep Lab and Respiratory Division at VA Black Hills Health Care System and chief of Aviation Medicine at South Dakota Army National Guard (SDARNG).

The conference will broadcast simultaneously to providers in 12 locations including Aberdeen, Brookings, Hot Springs, Madison, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Spearfish, Watertown, Winner and Yankton. It will originate in Sioux Falls at the University Center, 2005 Career Place, Room 282 and in Rapid City at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Classroom Building Room 109, 501 E. Saint Joseph St.

"Family practitioners and community-based health care providers are essential in helping South Dakota's returning service members cope with the emotional and mental health issues resulting from serving in combat," explained David J. McIntyre, President and CEO of TriWest Healthcare Alliance. "This videoconference is the first-of-its kind to combine the resources of the VA in South Dakota and TriWest to reach rural providers caring for these service members as they reintegrate into mainstream civilian life."

Currently, more than 4,000 citizen soldiers make up the South Dakota National Guard. The majority have been mobilized in support of the Global War on Terrorism and reintegration following deployment to a war zone is a common readjustment issue among South Dakota's Guard families.

"The onset of emotional or mental health symptoms is unpredictable. Symptoms can manifest immediately or take months or years," Rentz said. "Getting clinical combat stress information into the hands of community-based providers who are delivering ongoing health care is vital to addressing the mental health needs of our troops and their families throughout the deployment cycle."

This is the fifteenth combat stress-related conference TriWest has hosted in the West Region, educating more than 1,200 health care providers.

TriWest Healthcare Alliance is sponsoring the conference in conjunction with the University of North Texas Health Science Center and the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in South Dakota. Continuing education credits will be offered to attendees.

About TriWest

TriWest Healthcare Alliance partners with the Department of Defense to do "Whatever It Takes" to support the health care needs of 2.9 million members of America's military family. A Phoenix-based corporation, TriWest provides access to cost-effective, high-quality health care in the 21-state TRICARE West Region, the 2007 TRICARE Region of the year. TriWest, is a proud Corporate Team Member of America Supports You. Visit for more information.

About Sioux Falls VA and Black Hills VA Health Care System

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers in South Dakota provide health care services to eligible veterans residing in South Dakota and bordering states of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota. Combat veterans who served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998 are eligible to receive cost-free health care for five years after discharge for conditions potentially related to combat service. These health care services are free for five years from discharge, regardless of income status. All returning service members are encouraged to contact their local VA medical center to learn more about benefits and services.

For more information on VA health care services available at South Dakota VA medical facilities, go to or For information on VA health eligibility, go to

SOURCE TriWest Healthcare Alliance
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