Home' Army News : September 17th 2009 Contents PERSONNEL 25
Army September 17, 2009
By Cpl Andrew Hetherington
WHEN personnel return from deployments in the
MEAO they don't just hand in their weapons and
body armour, jump on a plane and fly home.
A process run by the staff of Force Support Unit 2
to look after the post-deployment mental and physi-
cal wellbeing of home-bound soldiers takes place at
Billabong Flats barracks before departure.
Return To Australia Psychological Screening
(RTAPS) and Return To Australia Medical Screening
(RTAMS) are the two important steps soldiers must
take before receiving a ticket home.
FSU 2 Regimental Medical Officer Capt Robin
Chan said RTAMS assessed ADF personnel for any
injury or illnesses incurred while they were away.
"We ask them if they were exposed to any hazard-
ous substances and also ensure they have the appropri-
ate medication for malaria and parasite eradication such
as worms," Capt Chan said.
"Specifically we look for any signs of parasites on
the skin and we give them a general health check."
Soldiers will first fill out a medical questionnaire
and then see a medic, where their temperature and
blood pressure is taken. They are weighed to see if their
weight has fluctuated during their time away. A visit to
the doctor is next.
"I ask how was their trip and if they ran into any
health problems," Capt Chan said.
Common complaints from returning personnel are
back and head aches and some have trouble sleeping.
"If we do detect something which involves the
muscular or skeletal system, we usually start treatment
here and make recommendations in the notes and to
the member to have follow-up treatment when they get
home," Capt Chan said.
For the RTAMS process to work effectively, it's
essential to be honest with the medical staff.
"This is completely vital for us to effectively treat
someone's health condition," Capt Chan said. "As doc-
tors we only have the members' best interest at heart,
but we also have to look out for what's best for the
operation or capability as a whole."
On the psychological side, Maj Nick Wallace said
the RTAPS process began with a questionnaire.
"It takes about 15 minutes to fill in, and then people
have an interview with either a psych examiner or psy-
chologist," he said. "This gives people a chance to talk
about the high and low points of their deployment."
It is an opportunity to talk about anything traumatic,
negative or interesting that soldiers have come across.
"Also, we want to know what they learnt during the
deployment," Maj Wallace said.
If necessary, psychological support can be organ-
ised for members. Support will begin at Billabong
Flats, but more intensive treatment will take place back
"We refer personnel to ADF psychological services
at home, veterans' counselling services and if there is a
need for psychiatric assessment or need to see a padre,
we can organise that too," Maj Wallace said.
"Our aim is to assist people. I think there is a bit of
stigma about seeing the psych. If there was a problem,
some people think they might be stuck in the MEAO.
This is definitely not the case; the process would be
sped up if there was something critical going on."
Health check: Capt Robin Chan conducts an end-of-deployment interview with an ADF member before his return to Australia.
Photo by Cpl Andrew Hetherington
SOLDIERS are reminded that the electronic
Manual of Personnel Administration (e-MPA) is
an Army administrative website available to all
The site has received an endorsement from
RMC, which uses it to train officer cadets and has
described the site as "gold".
The e-MPA was created to provide an easy-to-
follow website to help work out personnel policy
It can be accessed at http://intranet.defence.gov.
or by using the e-MPA link on other Army websites.
Admin site is 'gold'
Links Archive September 3rd 2009 October 1st 2009 Navigation Previous Page Next Page