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  • Remember, Honor Those Fallen This Memorial Day

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    Capt. Paul S. Hammer, DCoE director

    Memorial Day developed out of Decoration Day, a tradition of decorating the graves of the fallen from the Civil War. As history marched on, the day became a day to remember the fallen from all wars, not just the Civil War. It officially became Memorial Day after World War II.

    Now, we mark Memorial Day as the start of summer, the newest blockbuster action movies start to come out, we think of graduations, vacations and summer travel plans, car races, picnics and golf tournaments.

    But perhaps we should take time to reflect on the sacrifices of those who made all this fun possible, and to remember those they left behind who will forever be affected by their loss.

    The pain and grief at the loss of a loved one fades with time, but it is never forgotten. Nor should it be for the rest of us who live comfortably because of the sacrifices of those who have gone before.

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  • Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: How Mental Health Concerns are Treated In-theater

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    Doc Bender on top of the Ziggurat of Ur in Southern Iraq, in February 2009. (Courtesy photo)

    Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

    I talk to many civilian doctors and they sometimes ask me about treating psychological health concerns in-theater. Many are surprised to learn the extent of our mental health resources: we have psychologists and psychiatrists, provide medications and therapy, and even have programs to help service members quit smoking available. As combat theaters mature, more assets are available to help service members and their mental health. However, there are differences in how we manage mental health treatment in-theater compared to how we manage them at home. While managing care in-theater, because of limited time, importance of the mission and unit cohesion, we use the “BICEPS” model to guide mental health treatment instead of methods civilian providers may be more familiar with.

    The “BICEPS” approach uses six components to help guide providers while they manage treatment of service members during intense situations, like being in a war zone:

  • Program Offers Specialized Help to Support Those Transitioning

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    inTransition, a Defense Department (DoD) program, helps service members who are receiving mental health treatment transition—to a new health care system or provider. Program participants are assigned a personal coach who monitors and guides them through their transition.

    The DCoE Blog staff recently took the opportunity to chat with one of the inTranstition Program coaches about their work—supporting service members.


    What is an inTransition coach?


    As a coach, I help service members through a transition, like relocating from one base to another; retirement; or temporary leave prior to discharge. I provide resources and information and coordinate mental health treatment. In some cases, I even help the service member initiate treatment for the first time. The treatment can be provided by military treatment facilities, VA hospitals/clinics, TRICARE providers, independent insurance or community service agencies.


  • Congressional Caucus Panel Shares Mental Health Stories, Critical Issues

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    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell

    As part of May Mental Health Awareness Month, the Congressional Mental Health Caucus hosted a panel discussion last week to update congressional members and staff on military mental health issues. Along with DCoE Director Capt. Paul S. Hammer, presenters included: Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff; Brig. Gen. Darryl Williams, Warrior Transition Command; Col. Gregory D. Gadson and Sgt. Maj. Robert Gallagher, Army Wounded Warrior Program Command; and Gina Hill and Sheri Hall, both military spouses.

    The panel shared different perspectives on some of the mental health challenges inside the military community. While several topics were discussed, the underlying message was the same—the public needs to know more about the signs, symptoms and access to treatment for various mental health concerns. Several panelists agreed that the more people are aware of what post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is and what the risk factors and warning signs are, the more likely they will be to talk about PTSD and reach out for support.

  • May DCoE Monthly Webinar: Operational Stress and In-theater Care

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    U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez

    With many service members experiencing multiple deployments as a result of a long war, the stress on the force is significant. Combat and operational stress is the anticipated reaction of service members following stressful or dangerous events that are unique to military life. Although reactions can vary for a number of reasons, like repeated exposure to traumatic events, a person’s mental, emotional, physical and behavioral health is usually affected.

    Join the next DCoE webinar, “Operational Stress and In-theater Care” May 26 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. to learn about best practices for understanding and treating combat and operational stress, with a special focus on in-theater care.

    Speakers will offer suggestions and techniques for health care providers on how to administer care to service members experiencing operational stress. Service members and providers will be provided tools to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of combat stress and when to reach out for help.

  • Want to Support Mental Health Awareness Month? Share These Resources

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    How do you define mental health? It’s more than how we think, feel and act. Mental health helps determine our ability to cope with stress, relate to the people in our lives and make day-to-day choices.

    During Mental Health Awareness Month, we are placing special emphasis on the resources available to help support the mental health needs of those within the military community.

    These resources are designed to assist providers with diagnosis and treatment, and increase awareness among service members, veterans and families about how to maintain mental health, cope with psychological concerns and access care.

    Provider Resources: