• Write Home Soon: A Brief History of Military Family Correspondence
    Collage of images related to military mail

    When I was 10, I decided to run away from home. I packed a bag, made a sack lunch for the journey (which was all the way to my favorite hiding spot just behind the carport), and wrote my mom a good-bye letter. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I do remember including an address where she could send me mail:

    Heather’s New Home

    End of the Carport

    Atwater, California

    Even then, I didn’t want to leave home without someone knowing how to reach me. In fact, I desperately awaited the first note from my Mom, which I was sure would say how much she missed me and wanted me to come home.

    That yearning for connection I felt as a child led me to the military. Though my time as an airman in the U.S. Air Force is one of my proudest achievements, every moment I spent away from the people I loved was painful.

    This need for contact with our families while separated is nothing new. A look through military history offers examples of the challenges service members and their families faced to stay in touch.

  • (When You Aren't) Home for the Holidays
    Photo courtesy of Tim Hoyt

    Being deployed during the holidays puts extra stress on service members who can’t be with family during this special time of year. In this blog post, the National Center for Telehealth and Technology shared suggestions from coworkers who have been there.

    Service members are often away from home during the winter holidays. How do they handle being away during this festive time from families and friends? I asked six coworkers here at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) who served, and their advice for others was to acknowledge the holiday — and keep busy.

    “The best suggestion is probably just to get out of your bunk and go do something,” said Tim Hoyt, an Army psychologist embedded with a unit in Afghanistan. “The patients I saw who were depressed, were the ones who just stayed in their bunks and tried to ignore the holiday altogether.”

  • ICYMI: Hot-topic Blogs of 2016

    Throughout 2016, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), National Center for Telehealth and Technology, AfterDeployment, Real Warriors Campaign and A Head for the Future addressed many issues related to psychological health and traumatic brain injury on their respective blogs.

    These articles featured ways to prevent, recognize and treat depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or traumatic brain injury (TBI); tips for better sleep; how to manage sports injuries; and more.

  • 5 Tips to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain
    pies on a table
    U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy D. Hughes

    The holiday season can be a challenge if you are trying to control your weight. But, you can overcome many of these challenges with good self-management tools, according to Dr. Andrew Philip, a health psychologist for the Deployment Health Clinical Center.

    Holiday eating is responsible for much of the weight people gain over the year. Studies show that while individuals tend to only gain 1-2 pounds over the holiday season, that extra weight tends to stay with them and accumulate over the years.

  • To Drink or Not to Drink: Have a Plan
    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Jiang

    Parties and special occasions usually involve games, music and alcoholic beverages. They are times of festivity and fun. For someone concerned about alcohol intake or battling substance abuse, social events may seem threatening. But it is possible to participate in activities that include alcohol.

    Get the Facts about Risky Drinking

    The first step to understanding your alcohol limits is to know the facts, signs and symptoms about alcohol abuse. The Deployment Health Clinical Center gives examples of alcohol misuse and facts about risky driving:

    • Drinking more or for a longer time than you intend
    • Continuing to drink even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious
    • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when you don’t drink
  • Tools to Make Deployments Easier
    DoD photo by Sgt. 1st Class Theanne Tangen, U.S. Army National Guard

    Deployment is a unique challenge that almost every military family faces at some point. Military spouses can experience stress, loneliness and even depression. Thankfully, tools for confronting deployment issues are available through AfterDeployment to make times of separation easier.

    As a military spouse, you have a lot on your plate – and if you’re also a parent, you have to balance those challenges with the needs of your children. It’s a tall order, and you often have to juggle all those plates alone if your spouse has regular deployments.

    The stressors are many: financial concerns, worries about a deployed spouse’s safety, frequent moves, social isolation. If you have kids, you also have the added work of being a “single parent” when your spouse is deployed. When your spouse returns home, you’re grateful, but you might also find that getting your family back to normal is harder than you expected.

    The only good thing is, you can anticipate some of these stressors and make sure you’re ready for them. So how can you as a military spouse and/or parent keep mentally fit?

    Read the full AfterDeployment blog and learn deployment strategies to help your loved ones and children build resilience.