Tag Archives: stress

Enhancing Resilience and Recovery of Reservists

By Paul A. Finch, LCSW, Program Manager, Reserve Psychological Health Program and Director, Psychological Health for Navy and Marine Forces Reserves, and Dr. Mark Long, Health Promotion and Wellness Department, NMCPHC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 18, 2010) El-Brenda Wiley, a psychological health outreach program counselor(left), advises Ensign Chris Love, a member of the reserve component assigned to Cargo Handling Battalion (CHB) 4, and his wife during a pre-deployment family readiness conference. The Psychological Health Outreach Program is geared toward providing mental health care to service members who have served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Maddelin Angebrand/Released) http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=91996

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 18, 2010) El-Brenda Wiley, a psychological health outreach program counselor(left), advises Ensign Chris Love, a member of the reserve component assigned to Cargo Handling Battalion (CHB) 4, and his wife during a pre-deployment family readiness conference. The Psychological Health Outreach Program is geared toward providing mental health care to service members who have served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Maddelin Angebrand/Released) http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=91996

It is well known that extended and repeat deployments can impact the readiness and psychological health of Sailors and Marines who put on their uniform every day in defense of freedom, but what about the Sailors and Marines who temporarily set aside civilian and family responsibilities and lace up their boots in support of the same cause? They receive the same pre-deployment training and experience the same potentially traumatic events, such as injury and loss, during deployment. Yet, studies indicate that Reserve and National Guard members may be at greater risk for developing psychological health conditions than their active duty counterparts. How can we bridge the gap?

Know the Facts

About 40 percent of Reserve and National Guard members returning from deployment report experiencing psychological health conditions (Hoge, Auchterlonie, & Milliken, 2006; Seal, Metzler, Gima, Bertenthal, Maguen, & Marmar, 2009). In addition, rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression actually increase in these service members during the period following a return from deployment, with some reports more than doubling in the first six months post-deployment (Milliken et al., 2007). This is substantially greater than that observed in active duty service members with similar combat experiences and suggests that post-deployment reintegration issues may pose a significant obstacle for Reserve and National Guard members (Milliken et al., 2007; Thomas, Wilk, Riviere, McGurk, Castro, & Hoge, 2010).

Identify the Challenges

Significant differences in occupations and social and military support structures likely contribute to the additional stress experienced by Reserve service members following their demobilization. Reservists are rarely employed in the military full time and frequently hold jobs in the civilian sector that may be disrupted by prolonged absences during deployments. When they return home, some Reservists may be out of uniform and back at their civilian jobs within weeks or even days, which can isolate them from the military community and its support systems. Many Reservists live and work in rural locations away from military bases, which can impede access to Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs). This geographical limitation can delay treatment and further isolate a service member in need. In addition, families of Reservists may be less accustomed to the frequent and extended absences of their service member and are less likely to be integrated into a military community and culture that can offer support before, during, and after deployments (Erbes, Kaler, Schult, Polusny, & Arbisi, 2011).

Overcome the Barriers

Although Reservists face unique challenges when it comes to serving in the military and living in the civilian population, they may share the same negative perception of seeking support for a psychological condition as their active duty counterparts. Research suggests that only 23 to 40 percent of service members who were thought to have a moderate or severe psychological health condition following a recent deployment received professional assistance. Service members cite a variety of perceived barriers to psychological health services, including lack of trust toward professionals, the expense of seeking treatment, and the negative attitudes toward receiving psychological health support (Hoge et al., 2004; House Armed Services Committee 111-491, Report to Congress on Barriers to Seeking Treatment, 2012).

Bridge the Gap

The U.S. Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) created the Psychological Health Outreach Program (PHOP) to serve as a psychological “safety net” for Reservists and their families who are in need of support services. Licensed mental health clinicians work to address and overcome the unique challenges that Reservists face and reduce barriers to seeking help. They provide assistance with issues related to PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), depression, substance abuse, and relationship issues. Services are available at six Navy and six Marine regional offices, which offer behavioral health care screenings, referrals, and 24/7 phone and email support. The PHOP staff also provides command support in the form of briefings and consultations. If you or someone you know is a Reservist in need of support reintegrating or transitioning back to civilian life, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, seek immediate assistance. Do not leave the person alone. Call 911, seek help from a healthcare professional and/or call the Military Crisis Line. Chaplains, corpsmen, health care professionals at your MTF or branch clinic, and your local Fleet and Family Support Center can also provide assistance.

Available Resources

Psychological Health Outreach Program (PHOP)
Military OneSource
Military Crisis Line
Marine DSTRESS Line
Vets4Warriors
Moving Forward

Your Navy Chaplain: Focused on “Every Sailor, Every Day”

By: Rear Adm. Margaret Grun Kibben, Chief of Navy Chaplains

Like a family, shipmates have an obligation to look out for each other, to look out for Every Sailor, Every Day.” While September is identified as Suicide chapPrevention Month, every day, day in and day out, we must direct our efforts to prevent the deaths of our Sailors, Civilians and all our family members.

Often when people think about suicide, it’s because they feel isolated and alone, as if no one will listen to them. I ask each of you to break the silence and start the conversation if you notice someone going through a difficult time. By engaging with your shipmates with the simple question, “Are you doing ok?” you are giving that person permission to reach out and ask for help. You are helping that person realize they are not alone. By really listening to their response, you also remind them that people do care about them and will care if something happens to them.

But it isn’t just about other people. Frankly, all of us have heard that message loud and clear and most of us are on the lookout for people who seem to be at their wit’s end. I’m more concerned about those of you who aren’t letting anyone in on your feelings of despair, isolation, or crushing pain. Please hear this message: it should never be a matter of taking your life but taking control of your life. All of us, no matter where we are in our lives, will encounter stress that can feel incredibly overwhelming. I encourage each of you to consider your own self-care and to take the steps now to build your own resilience to help navigate the stress that will inevitably come your way. And that means things like staying connected to your family, your shipmates, and the resources available to you. Knowing that we are not facing life’s challenges alone can help reduce stress levels before they ever develop into a personal crisis. But when it does, it means having the courage to say something to someone – to break YOUR silence – when you’ve lost control of your life and you need help.

As chaplains, we are committed to being where it matters, when it matters, with what matters. We help people reconnect with their sources for hope. That’s really our whole reason for being. We are here to make sure you have some place safe to go where you have absolute confidentiality to share your concerns or fears when things seem out of your control. You talk, and we’ll listen. If you just want to sit and not say anything, we’ll remain by your side. Chaplains will help you tap into your spiritual foundation or whatever keeps you grounded. And when you’re ready, chaplains will help you connect with the right resources and get you the help you need. Remember, our commitment is to you.

We are a team, the Navy Team. Together, we can make a difference in someone’s life – your life.

Contact your command chaplain to learn more about your right to absolute confidentiality with a chaplain. Don’t know who your nearest chaplain is? Call 1-855-NAVY-311 to be connected with a chaplain.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is just a call or click away. Call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (option 1) or visit www.veteranscrisisline.net.

For more information on the Navy’s ongoing efforts for suicide prevention, visit www.suicide.navy.mil.

Pledge to ACT – It’s about being there for Every Sailor, Every Day

Shipmates,

As many of you know, life can get challenging when trying to balance mission demands in a changing environment and our family and personal lives. As a part of the Navy family, we’re never alone when trying to navigate these challenges. ESEDOur connections with each other can help us build resilience and protect us from the negative effects of stress when times get tough. Every day actions to build trust and encourage open and ongoing conversation can make a difference—and may save a life. It starts with each one of us having the courage to break the silence and reach out to our shipmates and friends when we notice them struggling, setting the stage for open communication and support. It’s about being there for Every Sailor, Every Day, by every Sailor, every day.

As we join in global recognition of September as Suicide Prevention Month, I ask that you take a moment to Pledge to ACT (Ask, Care, Treat) if you notice things that seem out of the norm for a shipmate, possibly indicating signs of distress. This confidential, quick and voluntary pledge is available to all Sailors and families online at https://survey.max.gov/index.php/437524/lang-en from Sept. 1 – 30. The pledge not only emphasizes ongoing support and bystander intervention, but encourages personal and proactive stress navigation practices that empower you to lead by example.

Pledge to ACT today… we are all in this together, and together we will make a difference.

Respectfully,

Capt. Mike Smith
Navy Resilience Chief

For more information on Navy Suicide Prevention Month and additional ways to be there for “Every Sailor, Every Day” visit www.suicide.navy.mil.

“I Pledge to ACT” is not a survey and is for personal use only. Your decision to take part is voluntary and you may choose to take part, or choose to stop taking part, at any time. All responses are anonymous.

Preparing for Back-to-School without Stress

Transitioning from fun in the summer sun to a new, school-focused schedule can be very stressful. It can also be an opportunity to make positive changes to routines and perhaps avoid last year’s pitfalls.

Here are some tips to help you and your family navigate the stress of back to school season:

Shop smart. Take advantage of tax free shopping on your local base or in your community, and stick to the school-supplied lists as best you can to avoid overspending. You can also search online for used textbooks and free shipping offers, or visit a local dollar store for smaller items such as pens and pencils.

Visit the school. If your child’s school hosts an open house, take advantage of the opportunity to not only see the classrooms and meet the teachers for yourself, but to familiarize your child with where they will spend their days.

Create a family calendar. Keeping school activities, extracurricular activities, and appointments organized can strain even the best memory, so consider a family calendar in a common area, such as the kitchen. Knowing who needs to be where and when will build confidence, reduce stress, and create a greater sense of control and trust within your family. Make sure you include family time, whether it’s a family movie night or a visit to a local park.

Above all, encourage your children. Your love and support will help ease any stress they may be experiencing about the new school year.

For more comprehensive tips to navigating back-to-school stress, read parts 1 and 2 of our 2013 series Strategies for Tackling the Stress of Back-to-School.

Break the Cycle of Debt and Rebuild Your Finances, Part 2

Stacy Livingstone-Hoyte, AFC®, is an experienced Financial Counselor who has worked extensively with U.S. Armed Forces members and families. She is a long-time volunteer blogger for Navynavstress.com and previously served at the Fleet and Family Support Center, Millington, Tenn. as a financial counselor. Prior to government service, she worked as a financial services representative for several brokerage and insurance firms. As a military spouse, Ms. Livingstone-Hoyte knows firsthand of the financial challenges and opportunities that face military families across the globe. To that end, she embraces a steadfast belief that financial success can be simple, just not easy.

While Part 1 of this two-part series discussed ways to increase awareness of your spending habits and tips to be better stewards of your money in the present and future, Part 2 will focus on tips and resources to resolve past debts.

Anyone burdened with debt is likely to hear the terms debt management plan, debt2debt settlement and debt consolidation. While each option provides unique advantages, there could be hidden fees and disadvantages, so you should always consider the assistance of a non-profit credit counselor or military financial counselor who will help you navigate the maze of alternatives.

Debt Management Plans. Through the assistance of a third-party, such as a non-profit credit counseling agency, a debt management plan utilizes a monthly structured payoff that creditors you owe have already accepted. As part of the terms of a debt management plan, the accounts included are closed, interest rates are usually reduced, your credit ratings are typically preserved, and most importantly, you can avoid bankruptcy.

Debt Settlement Plans. Unlike debt management plans, debt settlement plans involve a final, reduced payoff amount from each creditor that has been negotiated on your behalf by either yourself or a third party, such as a non-profit credit counseling agency. Although the amount you are required to pay back is reduced, a serious tradeoff of a debt settlement plan is how it will affect your credit report, as creditors are required to note such accounts as “settled” versus “paid in full.” What this means for you is that when you apply for credit in the future, whether it’s a vehicle, credit card or mortgage, the company that pulls your credit report will see that you were unable to satisfy a debt obligation. In addition, when you file your annual taxes, you may owe taxes on settled debt amount.

Debt Consolidation. Debt consolidation refers to obtaining one loan to pay off the existing balance of your collective debts. One advantage of this is that you make one single payment each month to one creditor; however, one disadvantage is that the interest rates can be higher than your existing creditors. As with debt management plans and debt settlement plans, it is always best to consult a non-profit credit counseling agency to determine if this is the best option for you.

Debt management can be extremely stressful, but having a solid financial plan will reduce this burden and set you up for greater financial successes in your future. For assistance locating a non-profit credit counselor, visit www.nfcc.org or visit your local Fleet and Family Support Center.