December 7, 2007 – While the Navy is facing challenges in recruiting and retaining doctors and other medical personnel, it has no problem meeting medical demands in the Central Command theater, where it treats the wounded, injured and sick coming out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says the Navy’s top doctor.
Instead, Vice Adm. Adam Robinson Jr., chief of the Navy Medical Corps, said in a telephone interview Dec. 6, the challenge in theater is to identify service members who may be dealing with combat stress.
“I don’t have any gaps in which I can’t treat service men and women coming back from theater, for whatever [wounds or injuries] they may have,” he said during a Bloggers Roundtable via telecon. “Some of the challenges is to make sure that we screen these men and women appropriately [for combat stress].”
This, he said, would provide the Navy with a basic health information on service members, including those who may suffer mental problems after leaving the AOR, he said.
“So we have a baseline and some data to make sure that if they’re suffering from combat stress of any sort, we can identify that,” Robinson said, “or at least have a baseline for where they were when they came out of theater, and to make sure we can get them to the care they need in case this becomes a problem in the future.”
Navy-wide, there is and has been a shortage of physicians, Robinson said, and the Navy has made recruiting and retaining doctors a priority.
“I think we’re going to do okay this year … comparable to the last one or two years, meaning we won’t make up our full quota [for fiscal 2008] but we’re working on it,” he said. Robinson did not have the staffing figures available.