• The Time to Prevent Suicide is Always Now
    I will reach out for help...

    We hear about suicide prevention awareness every September, the month designated to bring national attention to this issue. At Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), and many agencies, private organizations and nonprofit groups, every day is an opportunity to reach at-risk individuals through advocacy, crisis intervention and targeted resources.

    I recently asked Dr. Colanda Cato, DCoE clinical psychologist, about her presentation to CrisisLink, a Washington, D.C.-based crisis and suicide prevention organization that provides a national 24/7 crisis hotline. At their “2011 Fall Forum: United in Hope,” Cato talked to CrisisLink counselors, staff and board members about military suicides, connecting with the people who answer those calls to the hotline from service members and veterans.

  • Veterans Service Organizations: Find One that Fits Your Needs
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Katherine Keleher

    If you’re a veteran, you might have already connected with a veterans service organization (VSO) and are familiar with the services and benefits offered by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, for service members who haven’t yet transitioned or will be transitioning to veteran status soon, Real Warriors Campaign recently published an article, “What VSOs Can Do For You” that’s quite helpful.

    When it comes to a VSO specifically, it’s important to note that some VSOs are chartered, which means these organizations are federally authorized to represent veterans before VA, and some are non-chartered. For example, chartered VSOs may prepare and present veterans benefit claims to VA. Non-chartered VSOs may provide veterans and their dependents with information on how to obtain veterans services and benefits, but they cannot serve as a representative before VA. Your specific need may determine the VSO that’s best for you to explore and reach out to.

    Here’s a brief look at a few chartered VSOs partnered with the Real Warriors Campaign:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Dog’s Tale
    Former Army Capt. Luis Carlos Montalvan and his service dog, Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Granda-Hill)

    Luis Carlos Montalvan is a decorated war veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained while serving two tours in Iraq. I spoke with Montalvan at the Pentagon library Nov. 30 where he shared perspectives on PTSD and TBI and his special relationship with Tuesday, his service dog. From that conversation, here’s what I imagined Tuesday might say if he could talk.

    My name is Tuesday. I’m currently resting at the feet of former Army Capt. Luis Carlos Montalvan, who’s talking about two subjects that most interest him — bringing veterans’ struggles with PTSD and TBI to the forefront, and me.

    Let’s be clear. I’m not really resting. I’m a highly-trained, low-tech asset listening to Montalvan’s breathing, words, inflection and tuning in to any changes in perspiration or scent that might indicate an oncoming anxiety attack. My back is touching his leg. I’ll likely know before he does if he starts to feel unwell and alert him and others. I’ve often heard him say that I’m his litmus test; he looks to me to gauge how he’s feeling.

  • T2 Launches Online Community for Military Mental Health Professionals
    Photo courtesy of National Center for Telehealth and Technology

    National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) invites military mental health professionals to join “Psychological Health Providers for the Military Community,” a new group the center manages on LinkedIn. This initiative creates additional opportunities for providers to share information and best practices for treating psychological health or traumatic brain injury.

    "Our vision for this group is to offer an engaging environment where mental health providers can share knowledge, exchange ideas and collaborate to help provide the highest level of support and care for service members, veterans and military families," said Dr. Greg Gahm, executive director of T2.

  • DCoE Staff Gives Thanks During the Holidays

    Our staff at Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) celebrated Thanksgiving in many ways. Some traveled out of town to be with friends and family, some stayed local to cook for those who couldn’t be with family, and a few enjoyed some much-deserved peace and solitude.

    No matter where or how we spent the holiday, all of us are definitely thankful for one major thing: the chance to share with you – our readers! This month we introduced new resources for prevention, resilience and treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and psychological health concerns.

    We talked about new gizmos and gadgets from National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), like the PE Coach mobile app. Although it isn’t released to the public yet, it will help providers treat psychological health concerns of service members through prolonged exposure and help users self-monitor their behavior. We also blogged about the new T2 Technology Enhancement Center, a state-of-the-art usability lab that tests technology products to make sure they’re easy for service members to use.

  • Military Mom Shows Unwavering Support to Injured Son
    Saralee Trimble offers suggestions to her son, Army Pfc. Kevin Trimble, as he works on a leather project with his brother, Ben, at the Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio, Nov. 10, 2011. (DoD photo by Linda Hosek)

    Many caregivers, especially those caring for a loved one injured in combat, find themselves suddenly and/or unexpectedly in this new role. It often requires uprooting from ones’ home in order to be by their loved one’s side during recovery; leaving behind jobs and existing family responsibilities; and having to put plans on hold indefinitely. Nonetheless, it’s something that most family members do without hesitation—and they learn to cope with the physical and emotional strains that follow. If you find yourself in a caregiver role, check out the resources created just for you listed at the end of this post.

    This blog post comes from Elaine Sanchez with Family Matters Blog, about a military mom caring for her teenage son, who sustained multiple injuries while deployed in Afghanistan.

    I was on a tour of the Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio when a woman caught my eye.