DCoE Blog

  • College Success After Traumatic Brain Injury

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    Image courtesy U.S. Army

    As a service member or veteran, you have all the advantages of your military training and experience to help you succeed in college. You’ve learned the importance of discipline, dependability teamwork and how to show respect. You know how to set goals and raise the bar for everyone around you. These skills will serve you well.

    Nevertheless, entering or returning to school after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may feel challenging. You may find yourself coping with persistent symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbances, pain, vision and hearing problems, dizziness, and mood changes. You may also feel overwhelmed or have difficulty staying focused.

    Strong support systems at colleges and universities can help you through these challenges. However, it’s important to be your own advocate and educate yourself about what resources are available.

  • Treat Stress, Anxiety Early for Successful TBI Recovery

    Read the full story: Treat Stress, Anxiety Early for Successful TBI Recovery
    Service member experiencing effects of anxiety. (DoD photo)

    Most first responders are familiar with the “golden hour”—those precious 60 minutes from the time a trauma patient is injured to when they should get medical attention. Although this magical hour remains a topic of debate among experts, most will agree that the sooner trauma is treated, the better the outcome.

    Health care providers should apply the same concept when treating patients for the stress and anxiety that accompany a traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to Dr. C. Alan Hopewell, a subject matter expert with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC).

  • MLK Day: A Day ‘On’

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    Petty Officer 3rd Class Rylan Burchell, left, hospital corpsman, and Sgt. Chester Ginter, motor transportation chief, both with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, assemble boxes during a volunteer event in Vista, California. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos)

    In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., millions of Americans will offer their day off as a day of service. This gesture, which distinguishes Martin Luther King Jr. Day from other national observances, helps people make a community more than a simple collection of individuals.

    Service is beneficial to those who need help and to those performing the service. In fact, research shows those who volunteer often experience greater health benefits than those who receive support.

    For men and women with a traumatic brain injury or psychological health concerns, connecting with others, especially in their communities, is an important part of recovery.

    “I think that one of the major problems [for injured service members], in addition to loneliness and depression, is loss of community,” said Dr. Donald Marion, senior clinical consultant for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. “Service can be an excellent way to get reconnected to the community.”

  • Honoring our Veterans

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    Navy Captain Richard F. Stoltz

    Last week our nation’s citizens had the opportunity to freely exercise their right to vote when so many others across the globe do not share the same freedom. Now we look ahead to honoring America's veterans for protecting that right to vote, their patriotism, and love of country. Their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good ensures our nation remains independent and free. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as the Director of an organization that works to provide for the psychological health and traumatic brain injury needs of our service members.

    We think not only of the veterans of recent conflicts, but also those from prior years, from World War II to Korea to Vietnam and beyond. Young or old, they all deserve our respect and support.

    Since 9/11, our nation has experienced a long period of conflict involving multiple deployments for many in our all-volunteer force.
  • DCoE Team Member Opens Up About Loss of Loved One to Suicide: ‘This Year, I’m Not Crying.’

    Read the full story: DCoE Team Member Opens Up About Loss of Loved One to Suicide: ‘This Year, I’m Not Crying.’
    Photo courtesy of Sarah Heynen

    It’s been eight years since he left this Earth. It was a tragedy that has shaped my life. This year, I’m not crying. The heart is a miraculous organ that heals over time; heals with the help of a supportive community, mental health treatment of my own and time.

    On September 22, 2006, my world went dark. The smile, laugh and energy that could light up a room was no more. A man I thought of as my best friend and was madly in love with took his own life. You see, his presence was beautifully infectious. He was much more than a combat veteran, he was incredibly smart, wickedly funny, an adventurer, a family member and the absolute best friend one could ever hope to know … and well I wasn’t the only woman madly in love with him. He was also a ladies man. I can say that all now with a smile and a laugh.

    How did I cope? It wasn’t always pretty. In the darkest times, I used alcohol to dull the pain, which was neither effective nor healthy. I also had moments where I daydreamed about dying to end the pain. I felt anger and self-pity. In time, I found healthier ways to cope. I joined a grief group. I formed a relationship with his mom where we wrote letters and shared memories and feelings. I had amazing friends and family who loved and supported me when I felt I couldn’t function. I found a job where I could give back and offer resources to someone who wouldn’t have had them. I shared my experience with others. I sought therapy and worked through my grief, my anger. I visited his mom. I visited his ashes. I healed. Slowly, sometimes painfully, but I healed.

  • Military OneSource — There For You

    Read the full story: Military OneSource — There For You
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock

    This blog post by James Rodriguez, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Warrior Care Policy, was originally posted on DoDLive.

    Last week, I had the opportunity to tour one of the three Military OneSource call center sites. Hopefully, you’ve heard of Military OneSource — a Department of Defense-funded one-stop shop for comprehensive information on every aspect of military life for service members and their families. The no-cost program consists of a 24/7 call center, confidential help, health and wellness coaching, specialty consultations, and a very robust website.

    What really struck me was the depth and breadth of the remarkable resources available. I heard multiple examples of extraordinary questions, requests and support. One that struck me was about a new military spouse who found out she was pregnant just before her husband deployed. She decided to move back home to be closer to her support network.