The Three-to-Six Month Mark

Three to six months following the end of a deployment is often when one starts to discern post-traumatic stress disorder, said Army Col. Rebecca Porter, behavioral health chief in the Army surgeon general’s office, on Tuesday. Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., Porter acknowledged that Army medical officials do not know specifically the amount of time it could take for a soldier to develop PTSD. The moment right after a soldier gets off an airplane coming back from a deployment and then undergoes the routine post-deployment assessment is probably not when one would recognize any psychological impacts or anomalies, she said. In recognition of this, the Defense Department created the post-deployment health reassessment to extend the continuum of care for service members’ deployment-related health concerns. (See PDHRA website.) Porter said, under this initiative, Army health officials re-examine soldiers three to six months after they have returned home. “I think it’s more accurate for us to say that at the three-to-six [month] mark, that may be when [the soldiers] start to realize that they are not bouncing back like they thought they would,” she said during the March 12 press roundtable.