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  • Enjoy a Quiet Independence Day to Beat Stress

    Read the story: Enjoy a Quiet Independence Day to Beat Stress
    Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

    Watching fireworks outdoors, grilling our favorite meals and listening to loud music may sound like an amazing way to celebrate our nation’s birthday, but for others it’s no picnic.

    In particular, service members and veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may not enjoy the party. Loud booms and bright unexpected flashes of light can trigger flashbacks, and some may choose to skip typical Independence Day events. Wounded warriors coping with other psychological health or traumatic brain injury concerns may also find these events trigger mental or physical symptoms.

    “There is no shame in declining to attend fireworks displays,” said Cmdr. Angela Williams-Steele, clinical psychologist and chief of evidence-based practices at the Deployment Health Clinical Center.

    Independence Day doesn’t have to mean fireworks and cookouts. Alternatives are available. Finding calmer, quieter ways to celebrate might mean creating traditions that differ from what we remember growing up. Family members might enjoy an escape from the bustle and noise, or a chance to travel over the holiday.

    “Engage in a private celebration by taking a ride in the country away from populated areas,” Williams-Steele suggested.

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  • Clinician’s Corner: Military Psychological Health Experts Answer Providers’ Treatment Questions

    Read Clinician’s Corner: Military Psychological Health Experts Answer Providers’ Treatment Questions

    To support Mental Health Awareness Month in May, experts from Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) invited questions from health care providers who treat members of the military. The questions and answers appear below.

    • Q: “Is there anything in the DoA/DoD regulations or elsewhere indicating that a service member must be chapter separated if the member demonstrated suicidal behavior (parasuicide) only once and was subsequently diagnosed with a personality disorder (borderline personality disorder)? A driving factor in this specific case is that the service member is a military police officer.”

      Sheila B. Albers, LCSW, CAP, ASAP Counselor

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  • Q&A: How a TBI Champion Talks with His Children About Brain Injury

    Read the Q&A: How a TBI Champion Talks with His Children About Brain Injury
    Photo courtesy of Ed Rasmussen

    As a veteran who sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during military training, Ed Rasmussen understands how it affects him and others. At home, he makes sure his kids know what TBI is, and how it may impact his behavior.

    Ed will share his story in an upcoming “TBI champion” video series for A Head for the Future, a TBI awareness and prevention initiative of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). TBI champions are members of the military community who have experienced brain injury in noncombat settings — such as in motor vehicle collisions or training incidents — and who are sharing their inspiring stories of recovery and hope with the military community.

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  • From One Military Family to Another: Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe this Summer

    Read the story: From One Military Family to Another: Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe this Summer
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jacob A. Singsank

    In the warmer months, I love getting outside and being active with my son. As a 6-year-old, he knows how to bike, swim and generally run around — and he loves it! As his mom and clinical training and education chief at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), I know it is important to keep him safe, and prevent brain injury.

    It’s vital to know that kids can be at risk for traumatic brain injury (TBI), especially in the summer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls account for 55 percent of TBI in children. They can happen at the pool, on the playground, on the road or just playing outside. Almost 26,000 children and adolescents are treated in emergency departments for TBI caused by bicycle-related injuries every year.

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  • Iraq War Veteran Talks About PTSD, Recovery

    Read the story: Iraq War Veteran Talks About PTSD, Recovery
    U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Chacon

    Master Sgt. Chris Eder didn’t know what posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was when he was diagnosed with it after two deployments to Iraq. Eder, who racked up more than two decades of service as a public affairs officer in the Air Force, was sent to Baghdad in 2003 and 2007 to serve with the American Forces Network attached to the Multi-National Forces Iraq-Combined Press Information Center.

    He still remembers the first of many brushes with death there when his unit, stationed in what had been a luxury hotel, was fired on by 10 rockets. As bad as some situations were, Eder is alive today because he missed some of the worst encounters with the enemy.

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  • Are You Moving? DCoE Resources Can Help

    Read the story: Are You Moving? DCoE Resources Can Help

    Both families and single service members, especially those with serious brain or psychological wounds, face serious obstacles when relocating or retiring. They may leave a battle buddy behind or a person who they have grown comfortable talking with about what they’re going through.

    People think moving is easy for service members, especially singles, said George Lamb, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) outreach chief.

    “They don’t have to worry about a child or family, and everything is already set up for them where they are going to move.” But single warriors lack that built-in support system, “someone to talk to and to discuss things with,” Lamb said.

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