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What is the Real Warriors Campaign?

The Real Warriors Campaign is a multimedia public education campaign designed to increase awareness among service members of the availability of psychological health and traumatic brain injury resources. The Real Warriors Campaign promotes help-seeking behavior among service members and veterans with invisible wounds and encourages service members to increase their awareness and use of these resources.

The program addresses the barriers to care that prevent service members from obtaining appropriate treatment for psychological and traumatic brain injury issues in the same way they would seek treatment for physical wounds and illnesses.

The campaign features a broad-based call to action, including information for family and employers on what to expect when their loved ones come home, how to support them and encourage them to get the help they need.

For more information, see About the Real Warriors Campaign.

How do you overcome the barriers to care in the treatment of psychological health problems?

Education is key. So is providing and promoting contact with other service members who sought psychological health care and treatment and maintained a successful military career or otherwise achieved success. Both of these approaches are addressed in the Real Warriors Campaign.

What is PTSD and where does it fit into the psychological health picture?

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a traumatic event.  A traumatic event is an event that threatens one’s life or physical integrity, such as military combat, natural disaster, terrorist incident, serious accident or sexual assault in adult or childhood.  Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, some people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own or may even get worse over time.  These individuals may develop PTSD.

PTSD is one type of psychological health issue.  Like other mental health problems, PTSD is a product of the complex interaction of biological, psychological, historical and social factors.  It is not the result of moral failing or weakness in character.

How does DoD screen for PTSD and how many service members have psychological health concerns after combat?

No military system in the history of the world has done more to identify, evaluate, prevent and treat the psychological health needs and concerns of its personnel than the United States Department of Defense.

In-theater psychological health support is provided across combat theaters to respond to the psychological health needs of service members.

Within five days of returning home from deployment, service members complete the Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA) and privately see a health care provider face-to-face to review and discuss any health concerns.

Three to six months after returning, service members and former service members complete the Post-Deployment Health Re-Assessment (PDHRA) to check again for any physical or mental health concerns.

The PDHRA screening is a mandatory outreach process that is implemented by commanders for all current active and reserve component members. The screening and assessment of the PDHRA survey is administered by a primary care provider.

We know from several studies that 20–30 percent of military members who have experienced combat will report sleep disturbance, anxiety, irritability, increased alcohol use and other symptoms. Oftentimes these are short-lived reactions that will improve over time.

What is combat stress?

Combat stress (sometimes called combat and operational stress or combat and operational stress reaction) is a common response to the mental and emotional effort service members exercise when facing tough and dangerous situations. 

Combat stress is not an illness and may be experienced by any service member during both peace and war, due to stressful conditions during training, deployment, humanitarian missions, government support missions and other assignments.

Combat stress can cause problems with the way one thinks and responds to emotions. Many service members experience changes in behavior and sometimes, symptoms present in physical form.

Symptoms may be noticeable immediately following a stressful event, but can take several days — even months — to manifest.  Oftentimes, troops first notice changes soon after returning home. Symptoms that continue for weeks or months, become increasingly worse or include violent or self-destructive behavior call for immediate medical evaluation and assistance.

Where can my relative call to get assistance?

For questions about posttraumatic stress disorder, other psychological health issues, or traumatic brain injury, call the DCoE Outreach Center at 866-966-1020.

I am in the National Guard or Reserves, where can I get help?

Visit the National Guard and Reserve Resources.

I’ve left the military, can I still get help?

As a veteran, you are always part of the military family. For information and referrals, visit the Veterans Resources.

Last Reviewed: 05/19/14
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