Medical

Wounded SOF Receive Specialized Brain-Health Care

U.S. Special Operations Command’s Warrior Care Program-Care Coalition (WCP-CC) helps injured Special Operations Forces and their families while they serve and after they leave the military.

SOCOM medical providers and WCP-CC, in cooperation with Home Base Military Outreach Coordinators, formed a Special Operator Cohort Program in 2018 as another tool to support service members’ brain health called the Comprehensive Brain Health and Treatment program, or ComBHaT. The program builds treatment plans designed for each member. These focus largely on traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder, but also address interrelated health concerns including sleep disturbances, substance abuse, reactions to stress, hypervigilance and memory, among others.

ComBHaT’s care options range from two days to a two-week intensive clinical program. These services are offered in Boston at Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital program. Many of their medical providers and researchers who care for SOCOM’s members also work with New England’s professional sports teams including the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Revolution.

“I attended ComBHaT’s four-day treatment program that looked into my prior TBI and it has helped me immensely,” said a Navy operator with 26 years of service. “What sets this program apart is the team of doctors that can share and discuss the whole patient and their family. … This program provided an excellent baseline from which I have been able to start discussions with my primary case managers.”

He said the four-day program he attended provided him brain-health care involving a neuropsychological evaluation to test and review his cognitive function and an evaluation focused on his sleep problems. The comprehensive approach the program offered also checked out his musculoskeletal issues and introduced him to programs allowing him to manage pain, rehabilitation for spinal issues and a cardiac evaluation following his prior open-heart surgery.

He is one of more than 130 special operations members who have gone through ComBHat at Home Base. While in Boston, the combined WCP-CC and Home Base program also offers care beyond brain health in other medical disciplines such as resiliency, family outreach, nutrition, orthopedics and physical therapy.

“This assessment and treatment program is life changing for many service members,” he said. “The clinical support, education, programs and whole-family focus is a must for many of our personnel who do not have the skills or time to seek out individual programs.”

The WCP-CC was founded in 2005 and currently has more than 18,000 recovering service members, veterans and family members enrolled. WCP-CC offers a range of services, some of which include linking members with medical care options such as ComBHaT, but also recovery, rehabilitation, reintegration, career transition, information on financial support and family assistance services.

In addition to Home Base, SOCOM medical providers and WCP-CC work together to refer service members to additional brain health programs at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence and the Neurobehavioral Health Program. SOCOM medical providers and the WCP-CC also refer members to Veterans Health Administration Polytrauma/TBI System of Care, and Intrepid Spirit Centers nation-wide.

“Our team adheres to the SOF truth that ‘humans are more important than hardware,’ and we recognize there is nothing more important than taking care of our service members and their families,” said H. Kelly Ammerman, SOCOM WCP-CC Acting Director. “We assist members by educating them on brain health initiatives and work with SOCOM’s medical providers on referrals to those initiatives.”

For some, the ComBHaT program may be the right fit. For others, it may take that program in conjunction with other care plans to fully address all of their ailments. The WCP-CC team works to coordinate care for the range of concerns a service member, veteran or their families may have, Ammerman added.

“Due to the nature of their service, many of our special operations population have TBIs as well as a host of other Injuries. Their injuries often cross into multiple medical disciplines and the impact of the effects often transcend the individual, so it is vital that we take care of the family as well. The members of the WCP-CC do great work in conjunction with SOCOM’s medical providers, and we are all thankful to be able to work with medical experts outside of the military to continue providing additional resources and optimal levels of care to those who need it most,” Ammerman said.

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