Dr Helen Kelsall, Monash Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, MonCOEH, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University

In 2015 I was fortunate to be awarded the AEA Mid-Career International Travel Award. My research program includes occupational health and public health epidemiological research, and veteran health epidemiological research is a key interest. This award enabled me to travel to Washington D.C., USA, where many departments and institutions central to military and veteran health research and policy and practice in the United States of America are located.

I attended an international conference ‘Military and veterans’ health after a decade at war: lessons learned and the road ahead’, Washington D.C., July 2015 - an apt theme considering the 1991 Gulf War and Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. My three presentations were based on recently completed major projects that were funded by the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs. 1) Comparison of health impacts and veterans’ health care systems between Australia and the USA for post-1990 deployments. Magruder K, Sim M, Kelsall H. 2) Posttraumatic stress disorder in 1990-1991 Gulf War veterans, Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Kelsall HL, Creamer MC, Page MJ, Forbes AB, Sim MR. and 3) The Australian Gulf War Veterans’ Health Follow Up Health Study 2011-2012. Kelsall HL, Ikin JF, Gwini S-M, Forbes AB, Sim MR.

One project was undertaken as a United States and Australia Joint research effort for which the aim was to gain an understanding of the differences and similarities between the military deployment contexts, health impacts, and veterans’ health care systems between Australia and the USA for post-1990 deployments. Our US collaborator, Professor Kathryn Magruder, Medical University of South Carolina and I co-presented at the conference. We followed up with an invited presentation at the US Veterans Affairs department to an audience of military and veteran health researchers, practitioners and policy makers. While in Washington I also met with members of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, who undertake and publish key reviews of 1991 Gulf War veterans’ health. Such presentations, introductions and meetings with international military and veteran health researchers and officials enabled me to meet these key people and to disseminate and to raise the profile of our research, build connections, and better appreciate common veteran health issues and future directions.

Finally, as I coordinate the Master of Public Health (MPH) in our School, in closing my visit to the Washington D.C surrounds, I took the opportunity to visit the renowned Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD (around 65 km from Washington D.C.) and met with the Coordinator to learn more about their MPH and Practicum program.