Assessment critical to deployment success

  • Published
  • By Maj. Bryan A. Smith
  • 908th ASTS
Prior to deployments, members are prompted to go into the Aeromedical Services Information Management System (ASIMS) and answer questions about their health status in the Deployment-Related Health Assessment (DRHA). There are questions about chronic health issues, physical limitations, home medications; etc.

Once the member has completed the questionnaire, it is sent forward to the Aeromedical Staging Squadron (ASTS) to review the answers and help make a determination whether the member is medically fit to deploy.

The member will then be called to answer three questions: What home medications are you taking and what are they for? Do you feel at risk to hurt yourself? Do you feel like you might lose control with someone or injure someone else? Honest answers are critical to determine whether a member should be displaced from a relatively domestic position of home station into a more austere condition of deployment.

The list of home medications gives the clinician a clue to what chronic and acute health problems the member may have. Certain health problems preclude a member from doing certain jobs, while others may be exacerbated due to the conditions. Some medicines have to be refrigerated; which may not be possible during deployment.

The member will often need to bring supply of medicines to last the entire deployment if they are not accessible.

The last two questions often result in a giggle or sarcastic joke from many Airmen I have interviewed. Clear and sincere answers are necessary to ascertain the member's mental condition. Deployment stress has the potential to push an already fragile psyche beyond the limits of self-restraint and humanity.

In an age where PTSD and other mental health disorders are disturbingly neglected, we must be intentionally vigilant in addressing not only our physical, but also our mental conditions intentionally. The DHRA is one means towards that end.