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TriWest and Montana VA Launch PTSD Video Conference to Reach Rural Health Care Providers

Community providers learn to recognize combat stress symptoms in returning


PHOENIX, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of their continuing efforts to address the needs of returning Guard members, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, the Department of Defense's TRICARE contractor in Montana and the VA Montana Health Care System have partnered to launch the first Combat Stress Video Conference. The conference, being held from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2007, will bring together nearly 150 community-based health care providers that care for the thousands of returning Montana National Guard troops throughout the state.

The conference will be broadcast simultaneously to providers in nine locations including Billings, Culbertson, Glasgow, Glendive, Great Falls, Havre, Helena, Kalispell and Lewistown. It is intended to help rural providers identify deployment-related symptoms such as combat stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD and traumatic brain injury, as well as providing treatment methods.

The Montana National Guard consists of more than 3,700 members who live in nearly every corner of the state. Since 2001, more than 80 percent have been mobilized for active duty.

"Family practitioners and community-based health care providers are integral in helping Montana'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 is 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 Rosa F. Merino, MD, Chief of Behavioral Health, VA Montana Healthcare. "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."

Key conference presenters are Rosa F. Merino, M.D., Chief of Behavioral Health, VA Montana Healthcare System, Fort Harrison, and Kurt Werner, M.D., Lead Physician, Ambulatory Care Southwest, VA Montana Healthcare System.

TriWest Healthcare Alliance is sponsoring the seminar in conjunction with the University of North Texas and the VA North Texas 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 VA Montana Healthcare System

The Department of Veterans Affairs is part of the executive branch of the federal government. Our mission is legislated by Congress to provide medical care for all eligible veterans. VA Montana Healthcare System provides hospital care at Fort Harrison. Extensive Ambulatory Care Services are strategically placed throughout the state including a medical center, nursing home and nine community based clinics with two more planned in the very near future.

SOURCE TriWest Healthcare Alliance
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