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  • Spouse Deployed? Keep Holiday Stress at Bay

    A military spouse and her son watch as her husband prepares to deploy
    Amanda Palmer and her son Brayden watch as her husband, Staff Sgt. Michael Palmer, takes off for a deployment at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. (Colorado Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Wolfram M. Stumpf)

    Below is a blog post from the Navy Operational Stress Control’s “Navigating Stress” blog, written by Elizabeth Winters, a Navy wife and stay-at-home mom of three.

    The holidays are fast approaching, and even when not dealing with the heightened emotions and stress of a deployment, holidays are rarely what we think of as “stress-free.” Add in the pressure to keep the holidays special while your loved one is absent, and you can very easily become overwhelmed. It’s vital to take active measures to avoid overworking yourself. For me, it comes down to three things: priorities, traditions and efficiency.

    Before the holiday season is in full swing, sit down and decide what’s important to you and your family. Don’t feel badly about declining invitations. Friends and family will understand if you need to pare down social obligations. Eliminate gatherings that only add stress to your schedule and choose your priorities. Let go of everything else.

  • Don’t Let TBI Keep You Out of the Classroom

    First day of school jitters exist for everyone. There are new classmates to meet, new subjects to learn, and new teachers to impress. But what about the service members or veterans beginning or returning to academic life after sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI)? For them, whether it’s a community college, university or vocational school, getting settled into a classroom can pose additional challenges. Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) recently released a free, electronic resource to help service members and veterans with a brain injury manage their educational journey. The “Back to School: Guide to Academic Success After Traumatic Brain Injury” helps individuals better understand their own problem-solving abilities and teaches new skills to overcome obstacles in school and life.

    Below, Lt. Cmdr. Cathleen Shields, DVBIC education director, discusses the product and addresses its goals and why it was developed.

    Q. Why was it important to create the “Back to School” product?
    More and more service members are returning home and going back to school, either to improve current skills or get back into the workforce. DVBIC developed the guide to empower service members who have sustained a TBI to succeed in this transition. The online resource will help them navigate campus life, manage ongoing symptoms, learn strategies for success, transition smoothly to a civilian setting, and advocate for themselves.

  • Sustaining Friendships After a Brain Injury

    Women laughing during comedy show
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cory D. Polom

    As a caregiver for a husband with traumatic brain injury (TBI), Rosemary Rawlins shares insights garnered from her own experiences along with insights from other caregivers and family members in her blog, “Learning by Accident,” on BrainLine. Sustaining friendships after a TBI is the subject of Rosemary’s recent post where she discusses reasons why some friends may distance themselves from families who are dealing with a brain injury, and offers advice to help you reconnect and rebuild family friendships.

    After Hugh’s traumatic brain injury, my family experienced a huge outpouring of friendship and help from our community. I remember finding it nearly impossible to put into words how much each small act of kindness meant. This incredible goodwill lasted for many weeks, but as the months dragged on, I noticed that TBI hung around while some of our friends didn’t.

  • Deployment Guide Benefits Families, Friends of Service Members

    Returning service member hugs his mother
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Martinez

    Your spouse walks in and gives you the news you’ve been expecting but secretly hoped wouldn’t actually come: His unit is deploying in two months. Sure, you knew this was pending, but finally having a deployment date triggers feelings that you’ve been keeping at bay for weeks. Now a wave of emotions washes over you: fear, stress, loneliness, anticipation and pride. It’s hard to make sense of it all.

    — “Everyone Serves: A Handbook for Family and Friends of Service Members During Pre-deployment, Deployment and Reintegration”

    Deployment is not a singular experience. As a family member or friend, the deployment of a loved one may draw you into emotions and challenges you’ve no experience managing. How do you prepare for a loved one’s deployment? How are you going to get through each day without being consumed with worry? What can you expect when she or he returns and for families, what impact will this all have on the kids?

  • Health Surveillance Center Informs Military on Mental Health Trends

    Service members stand in formation during Independence Day ceremony
    U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Tammy K. Hineline

    The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center is the central source for Defense Department health surveillance information. It provides routine and customized analyses and reports to Defense policy makers, military commanders, service surgeons general and public health centers, researchers, and preventive medicine professionals.

    As Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Director Capt. Richard Stoltz wrote in the July issue of the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, the flagship publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC), the military health care system has made major strides in providing resources and access to mental health care for service members during the last 12 years of continued engagement in war. The AFHSC is part of that success as the center helps inform Department of Defense (DoD) policymakers and military medical personnel in their fight to prevent and treat illnesses among service members.