Resiliency is the norm for traumatic stress survivors

  • Published
  • By Maj. (Dr.) Mitzi Mitchell
  • 48th Medical Operations Squadron
The Department of Defense recently awarded $25 million to a study targeted at determining the most effective interventions for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in combat veterans. This increased attention on treating PTSD has also been accompanied by increased efforts to prevent symptoms.

Research indicates that a majority of individuals exposed to trauma experience short-term symptoms such as sleep problems and nightmares that completely resolve with time. However, a minority of people exposed to trauma go on to develop PTSD. A current focus is on identifying factors which lead to resiliency and recovery in trauma survivors and then bolstering these in veterans.

The Traumatic Stress Response program, which replaced Critical Incident Stress Management Air Force-wide in 2006, was created to foster resiliency for those who likely will be or already have been exposed to potentially traumatic stress. The TSR program provides both preparatory education for those likely to experience potentially traumatic stress as well as education, screening, psychological first aid and referral for those who have been exposed. Examples of potentially traumatic events include aircraft mishaps, on-duty deaths, and serious injury to rescue personnel.

When the command post at either RAF Lakenheath or RAF Mildenhall becomes aware of a potentially traumatic event, it notifies the TSR team, which consists of personnel from mental health, the chapel and the Airman and Family Readiness Center. The TSR team then closely coordinates with the unit commander to determine what services are desired for the unit.

Following a potentially traumatic event, individuals can seek up to four one-on-one meetings with any member of the TSR team. These meetings are for the purpose of education and counseling and are not for medical assessment and treatment. There is therefore no documentation in the medical record for these visits. This approach is designed to encourage participation in the program by reducing concerns regarding negative career impact for seeking help.

For more information regarding the TSR program, call the RAF Lakenheath Mental Health clinic at 226-8603.