After the Smoke Clears

  • Shannon MerkleEmail author


Military health care professionals are often deployed in support of combat operations. They may be deployed with a unit or as individuals attached to a unit that needs augmented health care capabilities. Occupational therapy is one such health care profession that can provide a variety of rehabilitative services in support of combat operations. In deployed environments, rehabilitative services provided by occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants may include neuromuscular/orthopedic rehabilitation, behavioral health services in conjunction with a behavioral health team, injury prevention, and concussion care. The following chapter is a personal account of one such occupational therapist who shares some of the challenges and opportunities she encountered providing rehabilitative services, while deployed to Regional Command-East, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.


Occupational Therapy Occupational Therapist Rehabilitation services Concussion care Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Military health care Deployment experiences Lessons learned Warzone Afghanistan 



Thank you to my family and friends for their patience, support, and unwavering love. I am grateful also to Lieutenant Colonel Kathleen Yancosek, Ph.D., OTR/L, CHT, Barbara Syler, PT, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.), and Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Goldman, Ph.D., OTR/L, CHT for their invaluable mentorship and support. Thank you to Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, M.D., MPH, Colonel, US Army (Ret.), Colonel Matthew St. Laurent, MSOT, OTR/L, Sergeant Major Abuoh Neufville, Staff Sergeant Osuna Castro, OTA, and Mr. Heath Sharp for their assistance with this chapter. My heart goes out to the brave men and women of the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division (3/1 AD), the 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team (173d ABCT), and the 30th Medical Command with whom I had the privilege of serving.

Disclosure: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the US Army Office of the Surgeon General, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the US Army Medical Command, or the US Army Specialist Corps. Mention of trade names, commercial products, or organization does not imply endorsement by the US Government. The names of most of the personnel involved in this incident have been changed.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.US ArmyUS Army Research Institute of Environmental MedicineNatickUSA

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