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  • DCoE Develops Training Guidance for Treatment of PTSD, Acute Stress Disorder

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    U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.

    Trauma exposure in the armed services has become an area of intense focus during the past several years. With the increase in operational tempo for service members, longer deployments and dangerous work environments, the need for experienced providers who are trained in evidence-based treatments is clear.

    In addition to President Barack Obama’s proposed budget increase to help treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder (ASD), the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs recently provided guidance to the service surgeon generals to help ensure providers deliver higher-quality, evidence-based care to service members affected by these conditions. In the guidance document, “Guidance for Mental Health Provider Training for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder,” the Defense Department outlines recommendations for implementing mental health provider training for providers in military treatment facilities that treat PTSD and ASD with evidenced-based therapies.

  • Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: Find a Good Provider

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

    Dr. James Bender spent 12 months as the brigade psychologist for the 4-1 CAV out of Fort Hood. He served for four and one-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 concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

    Hello. Last month, I focused on those who are already receiving or seeking mental health treatment and the responsibilities of the patient. This month’s post is about what your health care provider should be doing to help you get better. Remember, you and your provider are a team and you both have responsibilities when it comes to your health care and treatment.

    There is no single mold of what makes a good therapist and each psychologist or psychiatrist has their own style. However, every good mental health provider should take the following steps:

  • DCoE Conference Hosts Award-Winning Documentary Screening, Discussion with Film's Featured Service Members

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    Sgt. Aron Hijar (left) and Sgt. Brendan O'Byrne (right) participate in a Q&A discussion following the screening of "Restrepo" at the Warrior Resilience Conference on Feb. 7, 2011. (Courtesy photo)

    “Everything else in life becomes different after you go through an experience like that. When I came home, I broke down. I couldn’t even tie my own shoes. I had no one to talk to about it - we’re not trained to talk about it.”

    • Brendan O’Byrne, of the 503rd Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat team stationed in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The valley was named “the deadliest place on earth,” in 2007 by CNN.

    O’Byrne’s experience in combat is captured on camera in the National Geographic award-winning documentary Restrepo, screened recently at DCoE’s third Warrior Resilience Conference. Within the film’s first few minutes, an improvised explosive device explodes underneath the platoon’s vehicle—an example of the intense cross-fires that were a daily occurrence. The film, directed by American journalist Sebastian Junger and British photojournalist Tim Hetherington, follows 15 men from 2nd Platoon, including Sgt. Aron Hijar, as they build an outpost in the middle of the night, deep in the Korengal Valley—from the ground up. The platoon names the outpost “O.P. Restrepo” after their 20-year-old charismatic medic Pfc. Juan “Doc” Restrepo is killed in action.

  • New Major Depressive Disorder Toolkit Available Online

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    U.S. Army photo by SSG Daniel Yarnall

    On behalf of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, I am excited to announce the availability of the Major Depressive Disorder Toolkit, our newest clinical provider tool developed in collaboration with the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

    Major depressive disorder, often referred to as depression, is a common illness that can affect anyone. Depression is not just “feeling blue”. If you’ve been feeling “down” for more than a few weeks or are having difficulty functioning in daily life, you may be suffering from a common, yet serious medical illness known as clinical depression. Know the symptoms.

    The toolkit, a compilation of paper-based tools, brochures, cards and booklets, is designed to help primary care providers effectively implement the major depressive disorder clinical practice guideline, which contains evidence-based, clinical recommendations on screening, diagnosis, patient self-management, pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy and monitoring intended to improve patient outcomes and local management of patients with the disorder.

  • Next DCoE Monthly Webinar: Understanding and Overcoming Compassion Fatigue

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    Sgt. Allen Chase hugs Dr. Jerry Wesch with Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program, as he gives thanks for helping him cope with the traumatic loss of his friend. (Photo by Christie Vanover, CRDAMC Public Affairs)

    It’s common for those who care for our service members and veterans to embed themselves so deeply into meeting the needs of their patients that they neglect to care for themselves. Commonly known as compassion fatigue, this physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion can be very disruptive to the lives of caregivers.

    Join us Feb. 24 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. for our monthly webinar “Understanding and Overcoming Compassion Fatigue”. Learn from personal experiences, and find out lessons learned and best practices to help prevent or manage compassion fatigue. To register or for more information, please e-mail:

    Speakers include a psychiatrist, chaplain and social worker. We know that you don’t have to be a health professional to care for service members and veterans. Service members, family members, friends and colleagues are encouraged to join, too!

    To access resources related to compassion fatigue, visit the DCoE Monthly Webinar Series page. Did you know? The Department of Veterans Affairs recently launched a National Caregiver Support Line; check out the DCoE Blog’s recent post for details.

  • inTransition Program Releases New Public Service Announcements

    When transitions including deployment or permanent change of station occur, it’s important that our nation’s service members and veterans have the right support systems in place. If you’re currently receiving mental health treatment and are also going through a military transition, get connected with the inTransition program to help make the transition to a new health care system or provider easier. Start by checking out inTransition’s newly-released public service announcements (PSAs) – they educate warriors, family members and health care providers about the program’s coaching services and benefits.

    PSA: "Blocks"

    Read the full story: inTransition Program Releases New Public Service Announcements