Tools and Tips for Health Professionals
As a health professional treating service members or their families, you have an important role on the forefront of military medicine. With service members returning from challenging deployments, it is important that you have access to the latest information and resources relating to psychological health and an understanding of the challenges facing our service members, veterans and military families.
The Real Warriors Campaign offers practical tools, tips and resources specifically tailored to health care providers who support warriors and families coping with invisible wounds. Through this article, health care providers will find resources to:
- Learn in-depth specifics about military culture
- Review evidence-based clinical practice guidelines
- Discover new training and learning opportunities
- Access resources to help you become a TRICARE-accepting provider if you are not already.
Understanding Military Culture and Combat Stress
Service members often experience stress reactions, like nightmares or increased anxiety, from a deployment. While common, these symptoms could indicate more serious concerns, such as severe depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Real Warriors Campaign encourages service members to seek help for psychological health concerns as well as overcome perceptions, according to several surveys, that reaching out for care could negatively affect their career, or cause their command, and their unit, to lose confidence in them.
The campaign offers health care providers articles and resources focused on the needs and concerns of military patients. Featured online tools and resources for health professionals include:
- Tools to Use When Counseling Service Members
- National Resource Directory: 10,000 Services and Resources
Care providers can also use online video profiles of Real Warriors who have sought care and are continuing to maintain successful military or civilian careers. The profiles, which have been used in deployment-health trainings and to start group therapy sessions, share the stories of other service members or veterans who experienced psychological health concerns due to a challenging deployment or reintegration. Rather than dealing with an invisible wound alone, they each highlight how they sought out care and the benefits they received from treatment. The profiles can show patients and their families that reaching out for support is a sign of strength with positive outcomes. Public service announcements, which are shortened versions of the profiles created for media outlets, are also available to view, or download to your computer, for discussions with or presentations to family members or patients.
Tips for Health Care Professionals
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain injury (DCoE) also offers helpful resources in the articles:
- Tips for Treating Chronic Symptomatic Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- PTSD: Treatment Options
Additional resources on combat stress, PTSD and treating military populations are available through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD.
Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines
Medical and scientific research on how to prevent, screen and care for invisible wounds, including PTSD, is constantly adding to our body of knowledge. The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs offer guidelines that include effective therapies, counseling and medications.
- Understanding and Using Clinical-Based Practice Guidelines
- The Post-Deployment Health Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) Desk Reference Toolbox
Training and Learning Opportunities
The Department of Defense offers a variety of training opportunities for behavioral health care providers. Review the Collaborative Training Calendar for educational opportunities for health care providers assigned to military installations.
The Center for Deployment Psychology also has five interactive online courses designed for clinicians caring for military service members, veterans and family members. A summary of these courses is provided in the Real Warriors article, Online Learning for Health Professionals.
How to Join the TRICARE Network
There are three TRICARE geographical regions in the United States, each with its own TRICARE regional contractor that sets the terms and conditions for credentialing and certifying a provider for whatever level of participation the provider chooses. The Real Warriors Campaign provides tips and resources to navigate TRICARE, learn about provider types and the benefits of becoming a TRICARE-accepting provider.