The Air Force Deployment Transition Center: Assessment of Program Structure, Process, and Outcomes
RAND National Defense Research Institute Santa Monica United States
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It is often accepted as common knowledge that military personnel benefit from decompression time between a war zone and the home station. To capitalize on the potential benefits of a decompression period paired with support services, the U.S. Air Force established the Deployment Transition Center DTC at Ramstein Air Base in Germany in July 2010. The DTC provides airmen returning from combat missions with an opportunity to decompress and share lessons learned before returning to their home stations. The authors of this report evaluate the structure, processes, and outcomes of the DTC program. They find that, although a majority of participants found the DTC program worthwhile, a comparison of DTC participants and similar airmen who did not participate the program shows no evidence that the program helps reduce posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, depressive symptoms, binge drinking, or social conflicts with family and coworkers. In addition, one of the DTC program elements appears to be similar to posttraumatic debriefing interventions which several studies have found to be either ineffective or harmful. For these reasons, if the main goals of the DTC program are to improve behavioral health and social conflict outcomes, the authors recommend that theDTC program be discontinued or redesigned and Air Force resources invested in alternative programs. However, if the DTC program has other goals, such as providing rest and relaxation to airmen after a difficult deployment or capturing after-action information, then the authors recommend that these goals be documented and the DTC program be more specifically tailored to them.
- Military Forces and Organizations