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  • Fortify Caregivers to Prevent Compassion Fatigue

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    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jason Kemp

    Compassion fatigue is a natural occurrence that may affect health care providers and the quality of care they provide to patients, a professor of social work said in a psychological health webinar hosted last month by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    Brian E. Bride, a professor of social work at Georgia State University and editor in chief of “Traumatology: An International Journal,” outlined the risks of compassion fatigue. Bride also explained strategies caregivers can apply to minimize its impact on their mental states and on the care they provide.

    Compassion fatigue occurs in caregivers who regularly treat patients who have experienced trauma. This secondhand trauma can produce symptoms identical to those of posttraumatic stress disorder, including intrusive thoughts, irritability, loss of emotional control and loss of concentration. These symptoms may affect providers’ ability to respond to patients.

    Recent studies of health care providers indicate that close to half of providers experience compassion fatigue and a significant portion say it negatively affects their work.

  • Defense Department News: Military Crisis Line Specialist Helps Fellow Veterans

    Read the full story: Defense Department News: Military Crisis Line Specialist Helps Fellow Veterans
    Image of sailor with text: Confidential crisis chat or MilitaryCrisisLine.net or text to 838255; 1CALL can save a LIFE;1-800-273-8255 press 1; U.S. Department of Defense; Military Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 press1

    Knowing where to turn in a time of crisis is important. Many of us have family members, fellow service members, colleagues or friends we can reach out to. But, it’s not always easy, or best, to talk about what we’re going through with someone close to us. A recent Defense Department article explores how a crisis line specialist helps other veterans.

  • Military Health Experts Share How 9/11 Shaped Future Careers

    Read the full story: Military Health Experts Share How 9/11 Shaped Future Careers
    photo of Army Col. (Dr.) Geoffrey G. Grammer, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center director with quote "It all started with that day."

    This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. This moment in history shaped our nation and our military. Many Americans felt called to serve. The men and women who were already in uniform serving were reminded of why they signed up, the vow they took and commitment to defending our nation.

    Almost everyone remembers where they were the moment the planes hit the Twin Towers or the Pentagon. It’s a memory that is etched in our minds forever. This year for the anniversary, the Defense Health Agency posted stories from staff members. Below is an excerpt of our own staff at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). Visit health.mil for a complete list of stories.

  • DCoE Director: Honing our Efforts to Reduce Suicide - a Public Health Scourge

    Read the full story: DCoE Director: Honing our Efforts to Reduce Suicide - a Public Health Scourge
    Photo courtesy of DCoE

    This article by Capt. Mike Colston, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, is reposted from the Military Health System in recognition of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

    Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is a national observance during the month of September, but suicide prevention is a priority for the Department of Defense (DoD) every day of the year. Suicide is a pressing public health issue. Suicide rates have increased alarmingly in the U.S. over the past two decades. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) will lead in preventing suicide through three lines of action: fostering research, translating clinical knowledge to the field and informing policy.

    Research

    The evidence base for suicide prevention remains thin. Research efforts such as the “Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service members Longitudinal Project” (STARRS-LP) and protocols under the cognizance of the Military Suicide Research Consortium are producing slow but hard-won gains in the science of suicidology.

  • Taking Time Off Enabled My TBI Recovery

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    Marine Corps reservist Eve Baker

    On May 5, 2005, I was riding my bicycle to work at Marine Corps Base Hawaii when I was hit head-on by a careless driver. If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, I likely would have died instantly or at least been left with extremely severe brain damage. Even with a helmet, I was still knocked unconscious and experienced a TBI. After a few days in intensive care, I was sent home under the 24-hour supervision of my mother, a registered nurse, and my fiancé, a Marine and former emergency medical technician.

    The doctors said that for a while all I was allowed to do was sleep, read or watch TV. I don’t remember much of the first couple weeks out of the hospital because I slept a lot – 12 to 16 hours a day. That’s common after a head injury, and it was all I wanted to do.

  • Tips from Real Warriors: What to Expect in Therapy

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    U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Calvert

    Most of us are familiar with a cartoon depiction of what therapy looks like: a person on a couch sharing personal fears to a serious looking provider who sits in a chair with a notepad analyzing every word. If this is your only experience of what therapy is, it can seem quite daunting! One barrier to seeking treatment for a treatable psychological health condition can be fear of the unknown. A recent article by Real Warriors shares tips on how to get ready for your first appointment, and what to expect during the process.

    Thinking about attending a therapy session for the first time might make you feel uncomfortable. You may think seeking care will make you look weak or others will lose confidence in your abilities. Know that reaching out is a sign of strength. Seeking care early can lead to positive outcomes that benefit you, your family and your unit.