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Air Force’s first Invisible Wounds Center opens

Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Air Force Surgeon General, talks with a veteran during a tour of the Air Force’s first Invisible Wounds Center Aug. 30 at the Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The IWC will serve as a regional treatment center for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, associated pain conditions and psychological injuries. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

Story by Ilka Cole
Eglin Air Force Base

The 96th Medical Group held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Air Force’s first Invisible Wounds Center Aug. 30.

More than 120 people attended the event and toured the new facility, including the Air Force Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, the 96th Test Wing installation commander, Brig. Gen. Evan C. Dertien, and members of the local community.

Hogg, the guest speaker for the ribbon cutting ceremony, thanked everyone who helped standup the center here. She also reaffirmed the Air Force’s commitment to providing ‘Trusted Care’ to our military members.

“Standing up this facility is just the first step of many in our commitment to care for our warriors with invisible wounds,” she said. “We owe these brave men and women the very best treatment possible. Today, we make good on that commitment.”

The center will serve as a regional treatment center for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, associated pain conditions and psychological injuries.

“The center is ready to treat retirees, Guard, Reserve, and active duty members from our sister services who carry the weight of invisible wounds,” said Hogg. “Our goal is to eliminate barriers to care. We want to treat our service members with dignity through every phase of their recovery.”

“The facility and the capabilities we are building here have the impact and the potential to change people’s lives,” said Dertien. “This sends the message that we can talk about invisible wounds. It’s okay to ask for help.

“We’re here for you, we’re ready to serve you,” he said.

The IWC, modeled after the best practices of the Intrepid Spirit Centers, will assemble a team of 18 specialties under one roof to provide treatment in an individually tailored, holistic and integrated fashion, using a combination of conventional and complimentary therapies.

Art and music therapy, yoga, acupuncture, physical and occupational therapy and mental health services will also be included in treatment.

“Having all these services under one roof, complimenting each other, provides treatment and healing in ways that are only now being recognized,” said Hogg. “The providers will also address physical, spiritual, mental and social well-being to further ensure positive health outcomes.”

Hogg shared positive accounts from wounded warriors she met at Intrepid Spirit Centers on military installations around the country. She attributed their success to the mind and body approach to treatment and community involvement. She also noted patient, caregiver and family education is key component in the healing process.

“We learned the best outcomes occur when a host of people are involved in the healing process,” she said. “Complete healing and reintegration requires healing the patient as well as the family.”

The ceremony concluded with a good news, momentous announcement for the military community.

Hogg said the Department of Defense recently accepted a proffer from Arnold Fisher, honorary chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, to build an Intrepid Spirit Center here, making it the tenth of its kind and the first on an Air Force base. Plans for the ground breaking are underway and officials expect a completion of the facility in 2020.

Fisher describes these facilities as “centers of hope,” and adds that these center are not built by the government, but by donations from the American people. He finds that thought reassuring because Americans believe this is the right model to treat invisible wounds, according to Hogg.

“Fisher is determined to continue his mission to build Intrepid Spirit Centers,” said Hogg. “Today the Air Force is forever grateful to him and all the donors who will make the Intrepid Spirit Center here a reality.”

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