KCUR News
8:59 am
Sun February 22, 2009

Ft. Leavenworth Puts Focus On Soldier Health

The military's recent effort to improve soldiers' mental health has reached Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Some 400 mid-career soldiers at the base's one year professional training school recently heard from a panel of chaplains and behavioral health staff. Lieutenant Colonel Lanier Ward is in charge of academics and says the event marks a new addition to orientation at the school. Ward says he hopes this - along with other new initiatives - will reduce the stigma of asking for help.

Lanier: "Oftentimes, they may be in physically great shape, and it's a question to them of if you hurt your ankle, would you go to the doctor? Well of course I would go. But oftentimes with the mental health / behavioral health issues that arise from stresses, they sometimes end up just like many of us in society do - saying if I go for help, I'm admitting weakness. And that's what we want them to get over - is that no, you're not admitting weakness. You're admitting that you have a problem, that you need assistance, so that you can continue to have a fruitful life."

Ward also says Ft. Leavenworth is expanding its behavioral health staff and is hiring a neuro-psychologist. The increased focus on soldier health is part of the army's overall effort to battle growing rates of suicide and post traumatic stress.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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