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TriWest and Alaska VA Hosted First-Ever PTSD State-Wide Seminars to Reach Rural Health Care Providers

Community providers learned to recognize combat stress symptoms in

returning troops

PHOENIX, Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of their continuing efforts to address the needs of Alaska National Guard members, TriWest Healthcare Alliance and the Alaska VA Healthcare System partnered to host their first-ever "Combat Stress Conference" throughout the state from Sept. 12-29. The seminars reached nearly 200 community-based health care providers that care for the thousands of returning Alaska National Guard troops throughout the state.

Conferences were presented in six locations including Juneau, Sitka, Barrow, Bethel, Nome and Dillingham. They were intended to help rural providers identify deployment-related symptoms such as combat stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD and traumatic brain injury, as well as provide treatment options and reintegration methods.

The Alaska National Guard consists of more than 3,800 members who live in nearly every corner of the state. Currently, more than 1,000 of them have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Family practitioners and community-based health care providers are integral in helping Alaska's returning National Guard troops cope with the emotional and mental health issues resulting from serving in combat," explained David J. McIntyre, President and Chief Executive Officer of TriWest Healthcare Alliance. "This video conference was the first of its kind to combine the resources of the VA and TriWest to reach rural providers caring for these service members as they reintegrate into mainstream civilian life."

"The onset of emotional or mental health symptoms is unpredictable. Symptoms can manifest immediately or take months or years," said Barbara Martin, LCSW, chief of social and behavioral health service, Alaska VA Healthcare System. "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."

The key conference presenter was Dr. Joseph V. Pace of the Alaska VA Healthcare System. Pace has worked as a clinical psychiatrist and mental Health flight chief for the U.S. Air Force for 16 years where he treated numerous service members for depression, PTSD and other behavioral health conditions.

TriWest Healthcare Alliance sponsored the seminar in conjunction with the University of North Texas and the Alaska VA Healthcare System.

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 Alaska VA Healthcare System

The Alaska VA Healthcare System offers primary, specialty, and mental health outpatient care to veterans residing within a 586,400 square mile primary service area. Inpatient services to veterans are provided in Alaska through a Joint Venture with the United States Air Force on nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base as well as through VA purchased care arrangements with community hospitals. In addition to the main VA Outpatient Clinic located in Anchorage, VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics are located in Fairbanks and Kenai. A comprehensive Homeless Veteran Service is also located in Anchorage consisting of a Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program, Veterans Industries, PRRTP, HUD/VASH, and outreach.

SOURCE TriWest Healthcare Alliance
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