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  • Tools, Resources to Strengthen Military Families

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    I attended the Blue Star Mothers 69th Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., recently on behalf of the Real Warriors Campaign, an initiative of Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). Nearly 200 Blue Star Mothers, women who have sons and daughters currently serving in the military or who are now veterans, gathered in our nation’s capital to share success stories, plan activities for next year, and enjoy some fun and fellowship.

    This year's event recognized something other contributors to the DCoE Blog have discussed previously—when service members return home it’s not always back to normal for them or their families. Some service members experience combat-related injuries, whether visible or invisible wounds, that leaves them feeling guilty, alone and disconnected from their loved ones. Often, family members and friends want to help but may not know how.


  • Real Warrior Ed Pulido Talks Reintegration in Radio Interview Series

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    Retired Army Maj. Ed Pulido (Courtesy photo by Real Warriors Campaign)

    As Real Warrior and retired Army Maj. Ed Pulido took to the radio airwaves recently, he used his own experience with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to give tips on how veterans can reconnect with family and friends after deployment. In a series of interviews hosted by DCoE’s Real Warriors Campaign, Pulido encouraged veterans to seek help and support when returning from combat.

    “When service members come back from deployment, they hope things will be the same and sometimes it’s not...but at the end of the day the Real Warriors program is here to help,” Pulido said in his interview with KPMS 94.1 in Seattle, Wash. “[Veterans] just want to make sure that we’re supported, and that we know and understand the stressors of what war brings out, but we also want a warm welcome home. This is what the campaign is all about.”

    In 2004, Pulido lost his leg after he drove over an improvised explosive device in Iraq. Once home, he started to experience psychological health concerns, such as suicidal thoughts, and took steps to get treatment.

    “I looked at myself as a very strong individual...but I was suicidal and had issues with how I was going to move on with my traumatic brain injury and leg amputation,” he said during the interview.

  • Real Warriors Spouse Sheri Hall: “How I Helped my Husband’s Reintegration”

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    Sheri Hall with her husband, Maj. Jeff Hall, and their daughters, Tami and Courtney. (Courtesy photo by Sheri Hall)

    As a co-facilitator for the Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC) Significant Others Support Group, Sheri Hall supports military spouses whose husbands return from war with combat stress and find it difficult transitioning to home life. She encourages women to discuss their concerns by sharing her own story of coping with her husband’s reintegration. Army Maj. Jeff Hall experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following his second tour in Iraq. With Sheri’s support, he sought help through the DHCC Specialized Care Program. Now, the Halls share their stories to encourage all warriors and families to reach out for the care they need.

    Sheri Hall shares with the DCoE Blog how she supported her family while her husband experienced post-combat stress and how she encouraged him to seek help.

    • Q. What was your reaction when your husband returned home?

      A. I noticed he had a deep, dark, hollow look in his eyes. I asked him if he needed to talk to someone. I let him know that I was supportive but he wasn’t receptive at the time. I think he felt he needed to be the “macho” soldier.
  • How Providers Can Improve Care for Reserve Component Members

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    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Lynette R. Hoke

    Have you ever tried to communicate with a person who speaks a different language? No matter how clearly, or slowly, you speak, the other person just doesn’t seem to understand you. This sometimes happens when military culture and language collide with civilian providers, as when reserve component members seek behavioral health care post-deployment.

    Reserve component members often choose civilian health care providers because they may not be able to access services from the Defense Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs for psychological health care and substance abuse treatment.

    “When they do [visit civilian providers], what commonly occurs is they voice military references and acronyms in an effort to relate whatever concerns brought them there, which they may not understand themselves, to someone with no understanding of military culture,” said Master Sgt. Stephanie Weaver, National Guard counterdrug liaison, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).

  • Pursuing a New Profession: Success Stories of America’s Heroes at Work

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    Kim Goffar, with the Office of Personnel Management, assists Staff Sgt. Natasha Dickenson in developing a resume. (U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez)

    On Aug. 5, 2011, President Barack Obama announced new initiatives to help veterans find jobs, including tax credits for companies hiring veterans and a new task force to help service members transition to civilian jobs or higher education. As we focus on reintegration and transition this month, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) is sharing related resources and information on programs to help veterans facing reintegration issues or challenges transitioning from military to civilian life.

    Mike Bradley might have been a little nervous as he interviewed with Halfaker & Associates, a Washington, D.C., security consulting firm. After all, the veteran, and future success story of the U.S. Department of Labor’s employment program America’s Heroes at Work, hadn’t interviewed since he was 16.

  • Support for Post-deployment Challenges:

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    U.S. Army photo by Dennis Johnson

    For many service members homecomings, although a very joyful time, can also be a stressful and challenging period.

    It’s common for service members to experience a certain level of stress, anxiety or other psychological health concerns as they reintegrate back home and into their communities, especially among those deployed to hostile environments.

    If you’re transitioning from deployment, know that you’re not alone and there is help and support available for post-deployment concerns, such as

    What is is an interactive behavioral health resource supporting warriors, veterans, families and providers. The website provides information on several topics to include the challenges service members routinely face in the months following deployment. No matter where you are, if you have an Internet connection you can access a variety of online behavioral tools to include self-assessments, self-paced workshops, videos featuring service members and families, and resources throughout the site.