• Job Searching Tips for the Veteran with PTSD or TBI
    Nathan Ainspan
    Courtesy of Nathan Ainspan

    I won’t lie to you. Looking for a job in the current economic climate is hard. Finding an employer who understands your military background can be tough. And, thanks to misinformation and misperceptions about mental health concerns, many employers are hesitant, if not scared, to hire veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI). So, if you’re a veteran looking for work right now, it may seem like the deck is stacked against you. Here are five suggestions to help you improve your odds and transition into a civilian job.

    1. Figure Out What You Are Able To Do
    Having PTSD or TBI may prevent you from carrying out certain duties on the job — but that doesn’t diminish what you are capable of doing. Take inventory of your skills, what you can and can no longer do. But, don’t be too quick to limit yourself — many accommodations exist that will allow you to perform tasks you might not have thought possible. For ideas and information on accommodations, visit the Job Accommodation Network. Finding out what you can do will help you figure out what you want to do.

  • DCoE 2013 Webinar Series Preview: First 4 Topics, Dates Announced

    Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) announced the topics and dates for the first four monthly webinars in the annual series. The webinars are an opportunity for health care professionals who interact with service members, as well as service members and their families, to learn and ask questions about issues related to psychological health and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

  • Eat, Drink and Be Merry… Responsibly
    Family beside a Christmas tree
    U.S. Marine Corps photo

    Family dinners, work parties, happy hours, New Year’s festivities and many other social gatherings are prevalent during this time of year. Typically a joyous time with family and friends, these activities often lead to overeating and indulging ourselves in unhealthy foods we normally would resist, as well as drinking more frequently and potentially abusively.

    Whether the drinking environment is centered on grandma’s brandy eggnog or other holiday alcoholic drinks, we live in a culture that tells us it’s OK to drink during the holidays. Throughout the season, there is an increase in availability of alcohol at parties and family functions we attend, which may make it more difficult for those trying to avoid drinking too much. Additionally, many holiday drinks are mixed, making the strength of the alcohol content relatively unknown. A drink like this is often stronger than a standard drink, and can get the unwary drinker into trouble.

  • How to Help Restore a Sense of Safety in the Aftermath of Tragic Events
    Photo Courtesy of Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth

    On behalf of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, their loved ones and the entire community of Newtown, Conn.

    The mass shooting in Connecticut has left an entire nation with an overwhelming sense of uncertainty, struggling to understand and mourn the loss of innocence by so many. During this painful time, as we struggle with the loss and trauma of Dec. 14, it’s important to connect with others as much as possible and not isolate ourselves.

    As adults, parents, loved ones and community members, it’s understandably difficult to cope with tragic events of this nature. Knowing how to support and communicate with the children and teenagers in our lives who are also grappling with the same feelings and unanswered questions can pose additional challenges.

  • Encourage Healing After a Disaster
    America stands tall through Hurricane Sandy
    A United States flag flies in the background amidst debris and destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in Toms River N.J., Nov. 3, 2012. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Nate Hauser)

    Exposure to natural disasters — hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires — and manmade disasters — shootings, workplace violence, and war — may place a tremendous burden on our resilience, self-esteem and ability to survive a disaster.

    Psychology provides us with an understanding of how we might cope with some of these feelings. For example, it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotional, behavioral and psychological reactions to trauma. Feelings of helplessness, anger, fear and sadness are expected, and allowing yourself to experience these feelings is necessary for healing. Over time, these feelings will begin to fade, but keep in mind grieving is a process that may take months or a year, or more to work through. It isn’t something that can be rushed. However, there are things you and your loved ones can do to encourage healing:

  • DCoE December Twitter Chat: PTSD and Holidays

    Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) will hold a live Twitter chat, “PTSD and Holidays — Plan For It,” with Dr. James Bender from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (EST) Dec. 18.

    Bender, a DCoE clinical psychologist, will share information and answer questions about issues combat veterans face during the holidays, especially if they recently returned from theater or have been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder. Topics to be discussed include dealing with crowds and crowded spaces, alcohol and social withdrawal.