• In Case You Missed It: Summit Highlights Resilience, Psychological Health, Suicide Prevention

    “Psychological Health and Resilience Summit” brimmed with research and take-aways during the three-day event late last week at Defense Health Headquarters, Falls Church, Virginia. Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) hosted the signature event.

    DCoE Director Navy Capt. Richard F. Stoltz, Dr. Warren Lockette, deputy assistant secretary of defense for health services and policy oversight, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Navy Capt. Anthony Arita, Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC) director, were among subject matter experts who shared intense examinations of the state of psychological health care in the military, including:

  • How I Overcame the Stigma of Mental Illness and Saved My Life
    Video by Brandon Goldner, Capital News Service

    Because of the stigma associated with seeking mental health care, many service members are reluctant to seek treatment. Navy Capt. Todd Kruder understands this firsthand. Before receiving treatment, Kruder suffered from severe depression and suicidal thoughts. In this video, Kruder discusses how he overcame the stigma of mental illness and his journey toward recovery, which offers hope to those who may be suffering in silence that their lives can improve.

  • Chaplains Discuss Roles in Service Member Suicide Prevention
    Fort Hood WTB gatekeepers learning suicide intervention skills with ASIST workshop
    Soldiers look at a suicide-prevention brochure that details suicide warning signs and suicide prevention resources. (U.S. Army photo by Gloria Montgomery)

    Pastoral counseling has long been recognized by service members as a safe harbor for moral questioning. More commonly now, service members seek pastoral care for uncertainties related to psychological health. In this setting, chaplains may counsel individuals having thoughts of ending their lives. For those who want help but resist confiding in their superiors, chaplains provide a confidential and approachable first-step that opens the door to preventative measures in the event the service member is considering suicide.

    The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Chaplain Working Group, consisting of military and Department of Veterans Affairs’ chaplains, is a spiritually-focused forum on deployment-related challenges, psychological health and traumatic brain injury. Laying claim to their unique opportunity to help reduce the incidence of military suicides, the group met during September, Suicide Prevention Month, to emphasize broader awareness, collaboration and counseling among their ranks.

  • 'People Magazine' Features Real Warriors Campaign Profilee Maj. Jeff Hall
    MAJ Jeff Hall
    Maj. Jeff Hall on patrol in Iraq in March 2005. (Photo courtesy of Real Warriors Campaign)
    “I was a broken man … helping others is my way of paying it forward.” — U.S. Army Maj. Jeff Hall

    After two tours of duty in Iraq, Maj. Jeff Hall found himself coping with posttraumatic stress disorder, depression and thoughts of suicide. Jeff and his wife Sheri, volunteers for DCoE’s Real Warriors Campaign, shared their story in the Feb. 18 print issue of “People Magazine.”

    The couple spoke candidly about how Jeff’s experiences during and after deployment affected their marriage and family life, their decision to seek psychological health care and how reaching out for help contributed to the long-term success of Jeff’s military career. Knowing Jeff needed help, Sheri mustered the courage to approach his commanding officer.

    “He said the opposite of what Jeff feared most,” said Sheri. “He said, ‘we’re going to fix this.’”

  • DCoE Monthly Wrap-Up: Brain Injury Awareness

    When you watch and read about people affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI), you can understand how the experience can be life changing—not only for the injured person, but also for those who care about them. Throughout March, we increased our efforts to make you aware of signs and symptoms of TBI and resources available for service members, families and providers. Here is a round-up of last month’s news highlights and resources:

    • How to Prevent TBI
      Do you always wear a helmet? A seat belt when you drive? In many cases, TBI can be prevented by taking simple precautions. Share these tips to help you and your loved ones reduce the chance of sustaining a brain injury.
  • Service Spotlight: Reaching Out to Someone with Suicidal Behavior
    Suicide Prevention
    DCoE has barracks posters for all military services on our suicide prevention page.

    Our series “Spotlight on Service Support” during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month highlights service-specific resources, programs and multimedia tools for service members, veterans and families that help prevent and treat self-destructive behavior.

    At Fort Hood, Tex., soldiers are learning how to talk about a tough topic: suicide. Instead of discussing the issue with a psychological health care professional, soldiers get on stage in a weekly interactive play with actors, performing suicide prevention scenarios. The play shows a battle buddy who is visibly experiencing suicidal behavior and soldiers are taught the best ways to approach the service member, discuss their thoughts and if needed, escort them to treatment.

    Communication can be the first defense in preventing a tragedy. The military services offer a variety of helpful resources that educate service members on how to approach a military peer with suicidal behavior and ensure they get help. These include the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force ACE model, the U.S. Navy ACT model and the U.S. Marine Corps R.A.C.E. model.