'Real Warriors' Campaign Works To Save Lives
(November 17, 2010)
|WASHINGTON (11/12/2010 - AFNS) -- Members of the Defense
Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic
Brain Injury "Real Warriors" campaign are working to deliver
the message that resources and tools are available for
veterans seeking treatment for invisible wounds of war.|
"My mission through the Real Warriors campaign is to let our
noncommissioned officers, enlisted personnel and our
officers know that we can't leave anyone behind in the field
of battle," retired Army Maj. Ed Pulido said during a Nov. 9
"DOD Live" bloggers roundtable.
Centers of Excellence officials launched the Real Warriors
campaign to promote building resilience, facilitating
recovery and supporting reintegration of returning
servicemembers, veterans and their families. The program
also works to combat the stigma associated with seeking
psychological health care and treatment.
Major Pulido, who lost a leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq in
2004, said having post-traumatic stress doesn't mean
something is wrong with you.
"There is no way the images of that day and the traumatic
injury I received from that blast are going to go away," he
said. "But what we can do is understand it, live with it and
know that if you have any emotional episode about that
experience, that it is healthy. It's part of your healing."
Army Capt. Joshua Mantz of the Real Warriors campaign said
Defense Department officials from Secretary Robert M. Gates
on down, have made incredible strides over the last few
years to break down any barriers associated with stigma, but
it is up to servicemembers to make the step to come forward.
"It becomes a matter of personal pride," Captain Mantz said.
"No soldier wants to be injured, whether that wound is seen
or unseen. Too many soldiers and people are led to believe
that (post-traumatic stress) is caused by seeing blood and
guts and gore on the battlefield, and I can tell you that
has very little to do with it."
He said the part of post-traumatic stress that sticks with
servicemembers tend to be "emotional burns," and that too
many are carrying that with them after experiencing combat.
Often, he added, it takes family or friends to speak up to
help them realize they have post-traumatic stress or other
invisible injuries of war.
"The family's absolutely critical," he said, "because the
spouse or the children can serve as the first line of
defense in picking up on some of the more subtle symptoms."
Major Pulido noted that his wife recognized that he had
traumatic brain injury after watching a report on television
and asked him to go seek help.
"As hard as it was for me to admit that my memory was gone
in some regard, the cognitive skills that I was so
well-versed in the past were suspect," he said, "I had to
take that first step, and then I was diagnosed with a
traumatic brain injury."
Major Pulido said he believes many great resources are
available for servicemembers, and that the Real Warrior
program is just one of them. Individual counseling is the
first step, he said, and finding peer-to-peer support
systems also is important.
"I think that you also have to have (your) family do their
own counseling," he said, and he added that for a holistic
approach, group counseling as a family is a good idea.
Ken MacGarrigle from the Veterans Affairs Department's
office for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, added that VA has
"vet centers" that provide individual, group and family
counseling to all veterans who served in any combat zone.
Captain Mantz stressed the value of building resilience
before servicemembers experience emotional distress and
giving them the ability to bounce back from adversity when
it occurs in addressing the problem of military suicides.
"If we can build the resilience of our soldiers ... so that
in the deepest throes of their depression, they pick up the
phone instead of pulling the trigger, we've taken our first
step towards victory," he said.
Captain Mantz added that it's important for peers or family
members to step in to help servicemembers who suffer from
the invisible wounds of war.
"We as leaders need to reach out to our young soldiers and
prove to them that we genuinely care," he said. "It's all
about persistence, literally taking that guy by the hand and
delivering him to the right person."
By Christen N. McCluney|
Defense Media Activity
Air Force News
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