Psychiatrist Receives Honor for Treating Special Ops Troops

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By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2013 – A Navy psychiatrist was presented the U.S. Special Operations Command Patriot Award for treating 68 Special Forces operators for traumatic brain injuries and psychological health conditions.

Socom’s Patriot Award is bestowed annually to recognize one individual or organization that provides significant and enduring support to Socom’s wounded warriors and their families.In a recent ceremony in the Pentagon, Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, presented the award to Navy Capt. (Dr.) Robert Koffman, senior consultant for integrative medicine and behavioral health at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md.

The award recognizes not only the care Koffman provided the Special Forces operators while they were in treatment at NICoE, but also for his follow-up on their care after they returned home.

Koffman treated both junior operators and senior leaders who are tasked with significant Special Forces’ missions.

“It is truly a joint effort at the NICoE to treat these patients and without this team effort we would not be able to provide the high level of care that our patients have come to expect and deserve on a daily basis,” Koffman said at the award ceremony.

Koffman’s award was based on his ability to “tirelessly” give himself to his 68 patients by arriving early, staying late and accepting phone calls and texts “from any and every patient, anytime and anywhere” to get the wounded warriors the help they needed, McRaven said.

NICoE, situated on the campus of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, is the Military Health System’s clinical research institute for service members who have been adversely affected by the combination of traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress. The center treats active-duty service members from all service branches for these invisible signature wounds stemming from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The holistic care offered at NICoE resonates with the Special Forces population, specifically the mixture of traditional medicine with integrative modalities, such as acupuncture and art therapy, Koffman said.

Treatment at NICoE helps service members heal and return to service, equipped to carry out their tactical missions and become better leaders, he added.

“The NICoE is a valuable asset within the DOD that we need to maintain and protect to continue providing state-of-the-art research and clinical care for service members suffering from TBI and [psychological health] conditions,” McRaven said.