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  • Treatment for Military Personnel and Families

    Physical Therapy
    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Berenguer/Released.

    In May we posted on the Deployment Health Clinical Center’s (DHCC) Track II program, which helps recent veterans who have been deployed in support the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and experience operational stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or disabling symptoms associated with their recent combat deployment.

    In addition to our Track II program, we offer the Specialized Care Program (SPC) Track I, an intensive treatment program designed to address medically unexplained and disabling physical symptoms experienced by service members following deployment or other military exposure. Referral by a doctor or designated provider is required.

    The state-of-the-art programs align directly with DHCC’s mission to improve deployment-related health by providing caring assistance and medical advocacy for military members and families with deployment-related health concerns.

    Based upon internationally-recognized best practices for the management of chronic pain, the Track I program provides patients with care for symptoms such as:

    • fatigue
    • memory loss
    • unexpected weight changes
    • sleep problems
    • joint pain
    • skin rash
    • digestive problems
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  • Readers Share Their Poetry


    Photo by Vince Alongi.

    Readers, thank you for sharing your poems with us and the rest of the warrior community. We look forward to continuing to post your submissions for the coming weeks. We encourage you to share the link to your published poems with your loved ones and communities. Reaching out is a sign of strength; pass the message on.

    Please click on the below links for this week’s featured poems.

    If you haven’t looked through the rest of our website, please do so. You’ll find links to helpful articles and resources. Also, be sure to connect with DCoE’s page on Facebook, where you’ll also find useful tips and news and a community to talk about psychological health and traumatic brain injury with.

  • Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: Helping Service Members with Virtual Reality

    Dr. Bender
    Doc Bender on top of the Ziggurat of Ur in Southern Iraq, in February 2009.

    Dr. James Bender recently returned from Iraq after spending 12 months as the brigade psychologist for the 4-1 CAV out of Ft Hood. He served for four and a half years in the Army. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad and many spots in between. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on mental health issues related to deployment and being in the military.

    In a post for DoD Live last month, I covered resilience and actions you can take to enhance your psychological fitness. This month I’m covering how technology is being used to help treat service members who have a psychological health issue.

    If you’ve spent a bit of time reading the DCoE Blog or our website, you’ve heard of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This anxiety disorder occurs in some people who have experienced an intense trauma, like combat. PTSD can be very debilitating and can last many years.

    Prolonged Exposure therapy is a treatment for PTSD that has proved very successful in the past few years. The idea is to expose the patient to what originally caused the trauma in a controlled way where the patient is in charge of the situation. For example, say a soldier becomes very nervous when he hears gunfire because it reminds him of a sniper attack he experienced in Iraq. Part of treating him with Prolonged Exposure therapy would be exposing him to gunfire in a safe, controlled way, such as going to the rifle range and listening to the “pop” sound the rounds make.

  • Make a Difference

    USO Hug
    A USO volunteer hugs a soldier. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brian E. Christiansen/Released)

    We have received messages from concerned citizens who are looking for ways to get involved and help service members, veterans and their loved ones.

    Your kind thoughts and words are much appreciated and in turn we want to share a few ideas on how you can learn more and help.

    There are many online resources that provide access to important information. Here are some suggestions to help get you started!

    Send a note to say ‘Thank You’

    Boost troop morale by sending your own customized message, offering a personalized note of thanks and support.

    Find out how you can support the America Supports You Homefront Groups

    Scroll down to the bottom of DoD’s Citizen Support page to discover a host of non-profits that help our military families with such concerns as mental wellness and counseling, and caregiver and family support.

  • The Wife of a Soldier

    teddy bear
    Photo credit: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli, Colorado Army National Guard.

    Sharon was inspired to submit this poem to DCoE after reading Sgt. Lenihan’s poem. We hope this helps military families; you are not alone.

    “My husband was on active duty for nearly 22 years, and has been retired for two. He was away for approximately half of the time. We used to joke on our 15th, 18th anniversaries that we had only celebrated two of them together, so we were really only celebrating our 3rd or 4th. He has missed much of his three daughters’ milestones and lives. When our first baby died in utero, they brought him in from the field, all grubby and smelly and covered in greasy sweaty cammo, still hung with all his weapons and gear. I was sorry the baby had died; he was sorry I had to lose the baby alone.

    …I've done everything. I've dealt with medical catastrophes; disabled children; comforted widows, while keeping the secret guilt of being glad it wasn’t me; I've become a maintenance guru and a technology whiz; both handyman and housewife – all while keeping my kids’ father in their lives as a real everyday person, not someone who left them ages ago and won't be back for a long time. I've explained puberty, religion, math and bullies. I can answer the hard questions in life and the easy ones too.”

    Sharon wrote this poem to “show other military wives that yes, someone else knows how strong - and how weary - they are.”

    The first time it happened
    I cried and I cried
    How could the Army
    Leave me a lonely new bride

    The years rolled on
    Babies were born
    The Army kept taking him
    Leaving me forlorn

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  • NICoE will Offer Virtual Reality Technology for Troops

    Cutting-edge virtual reality medical technology, the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) system, will soon be available for patients at the new National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), which will hold its ribbon cutting ceremony next Thursday, June 24.

    "CAREN allows the use of virtual reality to be incorporated into the care of wounded warriors and may assist in the return to duty and/or the reintegration process," said Sarah E. Kruger, a biomedical engineer and the CAREN operator for NICoE.

    CAREN allows patients to work through a variety of skills after experiencing traumatic injuries, with the focus on promoting resilience and recovery. Troops returning from war are able to work through post-traumatic stress symptoms through a very carefully monitored virtual environment.

    "The CAREN system contains an instrumented treadmill embedded into a six degree-of-freedom motion platform that synchronizes in real-time with a virtual environment projected onto a large, curved screen," according to Kruger.