Conference Coverage

Better Planning Needed to Help Veterans During, After Service


NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – More work and planning is needed for veterans after they serve in the Armed Forces, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, MD (R-Ohio), told attendees of the 2019 AMSUS annual meeting.

Rep. Wenstrup, in his December 3 keynote address, suggested that in addition to recruiters asking about what enlistees want to do in the military, they also should be asking what they want to do after military service.

“Let’s plan for that right now because it’s so much better, it’s so much healthier when you have a plan,” he said, noting that many military members struggle when integrating back into civilian life: They don’t have a plan, and they don’t feel “essential” and part of a team the way they did while serving. He pointed to graduating college students who have made plans for their next steps.

“We need to do the same thing for our troops who serve us [and] prepare them for what is next,” he said.

In addition to ensuring the health and well-being of service members when they come home, Rep. Wenstrup also discussed the need to ensure that medical staff are prepared for emergencies, identifying it as one of the challenges of military medicine right now.

“It’s a challenge for a lot in the active component when we are not at war … to sustain those skills, and it is very frustrating to the providers all the way around,” Rep. Wenstrup said. He noted that a lot of military medical staff help keep and refine those skills by working in the trauma department of major city hospitals.

“We are working together to try and bring our military assets, our civilian assets, DEA, whatever we can, together so that we make sure that we can provide and be ready,” he said. “And the importance of building these bridges is key to the future of medicine,” especially in a time of domestic crisis, so that all medical personnel, civilian and military, can work together for the common good of providing that service. “These are bridges we have to build.”

Rep. Wenstrup also talked about the need to do more to ensure a healthier population.

“The key is how do we live healthier, longer, because that is the real savings. A healthy nation is a stronger nation,” he said.

When comparing the amounts paid to providers for surgery with those paid for health and wellness, he contended that high payments for surgeons are due to the high skill set required for difficult procedures. However, health and wellness providers are paid poorly, as is payment for the management of chronic illness. “We don’t pay very well to the doctor who works with the patient and prevents the need to do open heart surgery,” he said. “Let’s start looking at that. Let’s start keeping people healthier longer.”

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