By Col. Chris Robinson
Deputy Director for Psychological Health, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
As both a clinical health psychologist and as an Airman who recently returned from deployment to Afghanistan, I know firsthand the importance of reaching out for support for psychological health. For many service members, returning from deployment and reintegrating back home can present some challenges.
It’s common for service members to experience an adjustment period after deployment, but there are resources available to help build resilience, facilitate recovery and support reintegration. The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) offers several programs to assist service members, veterans and military families with post-deployment concerns and encourage help-seeking behavior.
The Real Warriors Campaign promotes help-seeking behaviors among service members and veterans with invisible wounds. Together with military leaders and the services at large, the campaign is spreading the message that reaching out is a sign of strength. Warriors are not alone in coping with psychological health concerns – there is a vast network of support and resources throughout each of the services, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and civilian communities. The Real Warriors Campaign website, realwarriors.net, has more than 80 practical articles to support members of the military community throughout deployment and reintegration.
Service members and families can stay connected to others within the military community by following the campaign’s social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter; by engaging on the campaign’s message boards; or by sharing messages of support using the campaigns ecards and materials.
Another DCoE resource to assist with reintegration needs is Afterdeployment.org, an online behavioral health resource supporting service members, their families, and veterans with common post-deployment challenges. The site offers a wide spectrum of core features, including educational libraries spanning 18 topics, 29 self-assessments that provide users with immediate feedback, ‘hands-on’ guidance with various self-management strategies, nearly 300 video-based interviews with service members and families, podcasts for ‘on-the-go’ access, community forums, expert blogs, quick links to hotlines and partner sites, topical RSS feeds, and a provider portal supporting the clinical community. Next-generation development will add three new modules (pain, suicide, finances), bring on a user-centered dashboard, and expand the site’s social networking opportunities.
Additional resources like the DCoE Outreach Center are available 24/7 by phone at 1-866-966-1020, email at email@example.com and live chat. Anyone can reach out to the DCoE Outreach Center to speak confidentially with health care professionals about psychological health or TBI concerns. DCoE also offers information and resources related to psychological health and traumatic brain injury on the DCoE Blog, Facebook and Twitter.