New on-line counseling option for Soldiers

A special blog post from Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli…

Since taking on suicide prevention in January, I and many other Army leaders have worked very hard to remove any perception of stigma as a barrier to care.   I think we have made progress on this front, but we still have a long way to go.

I am pleased to inform you of two new initiatives launched on 1 August by Department of Defense Health Affairs and the Defense Center of Excellence.

The first program provides Web-Based Behavioral Health Care Services through the TRICARE Assistance Program (TRIAP).  This program is open to active duty service members, members eligible for the Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) for six months after demobilization, members enrolled in TRICARE Reserve Select, as well as spouses and family members 18 years of age or older.

Through this new program, Soldiers and family members can access unlimited short-term, problem solving counseling 24/7 with a licensed counselor from home or any other location of choice that has a computer, Internet and Webcam.    These counseling sessions can assist in dealing with personal problems impacting work performance, health and well-being.  Through assessments and the counseling process, if a more specialized medical care is necessary, there are mechanisms in place for immediate referral to a provider.

This is just the first step.  In conjunction with TRIAP, the second program seeks to eventually expand services through TRICARE by also building a network of locations and online providers for telemental health services, using medically-supervised, secure audio-visual conferencing to link beneficiaries with offsite providers.  This network will be able to provide the full range of behavioral health care services, including psychotherapy and medication management, and is another step toward enhancing access to care.

I am very excited that our Soldiers can now access care from the comfort and privacy of their own home if necessary and that processes are in motion to move us through a phased approach to eventually get to where Soldiers and family members can truly access comprehensive behavioral health care at home.  I will keep you updated as we move through this process toward our ultimate goal.  For information or to link into your regional TRIAP web site for care, go to http://www.tricare.mil/TRIAP.   For information about the more comprehensive telemental services, go to the getting care link at http://tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/MentalHealthAndBehavior.

Your leaders are committed to ensuring you have access to the best possible care without any stigma.  Your health and well-being, and that of your families, is our greatest concern.

Army Strong!

-Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army

Gen. Chiarelli will be joining us for a blogger’s roundtable to discuss the topic tomorrow at 10 AM ET. Listen live at www.blogtalkradio.com/bloggersroundtable.