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Guard joins health professionals for reintegration

Current and retired members of the Missouri National Guard share their deployment stories to healthcare professionals in St. Joseph, Mo., June 22, 2012. The panel was part of a military wellness seminar to educate healthcare professionals about the challenges Gaurdsmen and women face. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crane/Released)

Current and retired members of the Missouri National Guard share their deployment stories to healthcare professionals in St. Joseph, Mo., June 22, 2012. The panel was part of a military wellness seminar to educate healthcare professionals about the challenges Gaurdsmen and women face. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crane/Released)

ST JOSEPH, MO. -- Community health care providers are doing the best they can with servicemember reintegration, and the National Guard wants to help them succeed.

That's what Missouri National Guard officials told nearly 60 health care and behavioral health professionals here June 22 at a military family wellness workshop.

"We are looking for ways to communicate with the community, on how we can bring resources to help veterans who return from the war with both physical and psychological injuries," said Air Force Brig. Gen. John Owen, director of Joint Staff for the Missouri National Guard and special assistant to Air Force Air Mobility Command.

Owen said the Yellow Ribbon Program is now used to help servicemembers and their families reintegrate but that it is also important for local health care professionals to understand the Guard, because those Soldiers and Airmen live in the community.

"When they have problems, they don't go to a military facility, as you would see in active duty, they go to their family doctor ... or they may get care through other areas," said Owen.

The program was sponsored by area medical and educational organizations. The training qualified attendees for continuing education credits.

Paula Overfelt, executive director for Missouri Area Health Education Centers, helped develop the workshop.

"They were tasked ... to train doctors, counselors, nurses and health care workers in knowing how to treat military members and their families," said Phillip Pringle, director for psychological health at the 139th Airlift Wing.

"There's a lot of support in St. Joseph," said Pringle. "We want to continue to enhance that support."

Pringle gave specific resources that community health providers can use for Guard members. He also shared his experiences as a deployed veteran and military chaplain.

Attendees also listened to a panel of Soldiers and Airmen, who shared their perspectives on deployments and the effect on their families as well as on their mental and physical health.

"It speaks very highly for the professionals that are here, that they want to continue to improve the care we give veterans as they return from the war," said Owen.

"We see the community rise up and do the very best they can. What we hope to do is take that good will and intent and give them the tools they need to succeed even more."