Tag Archives: Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury

Navy OSC Headlines the 5th Annual Warrior Resilience Conference

Earlier this month, the Navy’s Operational Stress Control (OSC) program headlined the 5th annual Warrior Resilience Conference in Washington, DC. Hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), this cross-service virtual training event, which included both the National Guard and Reserve, focused on resilience and the prevention and treatment of combat and operational stress injuries. Sessions were centered on mind-body-spirit, sleep and general education in combat and operational stress control to optimize performance and enhance physical and psychological resilience.

Navy speakers covered a variety of topics supporting the theme, with featured speakers RDML Martha Herb, CAPT Kurt Scott and MCPON Mike Stevens, talking about aspects of Navy’s approach to navigating operational stress and achieving resilience.

Dr. Nita Shattack, a sleep expert at the Naval Postgraduate School, presented research showing how sleep deprivation and alcohol intoxication have similar effects on a person’s ability to process and react to their environment. Dr. Shattuck’s team recently piloted a sleep scheduling concept, named Optimized Watchstanding, on board the USS Jason Dunham. The results from the all-rank cohort showed significant improvements in responsiveness and mental clarity, and will hopefully encourage the Fleet-wide adaptation of an Alternative Watch Schedule, such as the 3-9Watch Rotation. A full one-hour session was also dedicated to the OSC Leader course, how it was developed and how it has evolved since 2008.

“We’re looking forward at what we see will be the challenges. We want to keep Sailors ahead of the stress curve,” explained CAPT Scott, OPNAV N171 Resilience Chief, during an all-service panel session. “We feel confident, based on the input from Sailors and leadership, the [Navy OSC program] has had an impact on resilience and performance, and specifically driving down negative decisions.”

The virtual conference used live and prerecorded streaming media to offer interactive presentations, networking and information exchanges, an exhibit hall, resource downloads, and facilitated chat sessions designed to provide participants with a unique learning environment.

Sessions were recorded and are available on-demand from your desktop or mobile devices. Simply register and log in at http://dcoewrcv.sabercity.com. Available sessions are under “On Demand.”

Treat – Knowing When and Where to Go for Help

This blog post is part of the OSC Five Core Leader Functions series that features several guest bloggers.

Of the five core leader functionsstrengthen, mitigate, identify, treat and reintegrate—the most problematic for many leaders is the “treat” part.  They certainly are given enough training in identifying symptoms, but they often have a tough time with their portion of the “treat” part.  After all, that’s medical’s job.

I am known for taking a few trips down metaphor lane from time to time when talking about stress. So, perhaps a metaphor might help in understanding the leader’s role in their Sailor’s treatment.

We will have achieved our goal of reducing stigma when depression or PTSD is viewed like a knee injury.  If you were to see one of your Sailors limping along on a bad knee, you wouldn’t ignore it.  You’d probably ask about it and ensure they were seen by medical.  You’d also ensure that your Sailor was on track with their treatment to get back to full duty.

There are two key things the leaders do.  First, they are aware of what is going on with their subordinates and, second, they support them in their treatment.  The knee injury is kind of easy because it is visible.  The stress injury can be more difficult.  Being aware of what is going on with your people takes a little more effort. First you have to get to know them, earn their trust and then develop the ability to pick up on subtle signs and behaviors.  This is where the stress continuum can help.  It gives you some categories and a list of behaviors as a sort of cheat sheet to check yourself.  If you think someone needs help, support their effort to find the right help and make sure they stick to a treatment program. It’s not easy to find the balance between respecting privacy and knowing when to intervene, but the extra effort will be worth it.

It doesn’t matter whether your people are hurting physically or mentally.  When they are hurt, we need to be able to pick up on it and then make sure they get the help they need.  You don’t have to be the therapist, but you just have to make sure they are able to get to the one they need.


Captain Hammer is the director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. Prior to being the director of DCoE, Capt. Hammer served as the director of the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control at the Naval Medical Center (also known as NCCOSC), San Diego, California. Captain Hammer has personally trained thousands of service members in operational stress control, psychological health and traumatic brain injury topics.

Related posts:
Now I Have OSC – What Do I Do With It?
OSC’s Five Core Leader Functions
Conversation with a Cruiser CO: Practical Ways to Mitigate Stress
Success at Sea