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Staying Connected Can Build Resilience: Episode 031 - Transcript

 

Air Date: February 8, 2013

 

Maintaining close ties with friends, family and unit members can enhance resilience before, during and after deployment.

 

NARRATOR:

This is Real Warriors—Real Advice.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stressful or traumatic events. Maintaining close ties with friends, family and unit members can enhance resilience before, during and after deployment.

Establishing strong bonds with family members and making specific plans for keeping the lines of communication open prior to a deployment may help warriors cope more effectively with stressors that occur during the deployment. Agreeing to talk openly about family concerns as they arise and tackle them together can keep problems from piling up and prevent resentment from building. Respect each other's opinions and trust that the other person is doing his or her best to handle the situation. Keep in mind, too, that some challenges experienced while a warrior is deployed may not be resolved in one quick call or email, especially if communications are sporadic or stress levels associated with being in a combat environment are high. Don't force a discussion if the timing is wrong; instead, make plans to talk through the concern at another time and try to end your conversations with a tone that's positive and supportive. If a problem needs immediate attention while you are apart and you need assistance, reach out to military family support services, a counselor or chaplain.

Having a cohesive unit whose members share strong bonds, loyalty and commitment to each other and the mission also builds resilience by providing service members with a natural support network during deployment and when returning home. Line leaders and unit members alike can help build unit cohesion by encouraging teamwork, developing personal connections and camaraderie and addressing stressors that arise within the unit. Unit members should look out for each other and deal proactively with symptoms of combat stress, including seeking support from a chaplain or psychological health expert, when needed. As Navy Capt. Paul Hammer, former director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury explains, addressing psychological health concerns is just as important as treating physical wounds.

CAPT. PAUL HAMMER:

We need people to be physically and psychologically fit, not only to complete the mission and to accomplish their military tasks, but to be good family members, to be good parents, to be good spouses, to be good citizens. So, it's critically important that people deal with invisible wounds before they get worse or before they impair their performance or their ability to function.

NARRATOR:

Unit members can also support each other after deployment, even if the unit is no longer together. Using social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and email can keep fellow warriors in touch and let them share their reintegration triumphs and challenges. As family members work to gradually re-establish lines of communication and family roles and responsibilities after the warrior returns, they also should watch for potential challenges that are developing and take action, if necessary.

CAPT. PAUL HAMMER:

Family members are usually the first people to see the effects of invisible wounds, so it's important for family members, in addition to our warriors, to be aware of stress and stress issues and proactively deal with it.

NARRATOR:

Anger, irritability, trouble sleeping, always being on guard and excessive substance use are just some of the signs that a service member may be experiencing invisible wounds from a deployment. Taking steps to address these concerns, including reaching out for professional support when needed, are signs of strength and show that the service member is serious about returning to full readiness.

The Real Warriors Campaign website has additional information and resources about staying connected and building resilience, including the articles, "Maintaining Relationships with Loved Ones During Deployment" and "How Line Leaders Can Use Social Media to Reinforce Unit Cohesion." Along with these articles, you can find out more about psychological health concerns and how you or someone you know can get needed support by accessing information and resources 24/7 at realwarriors.net or by calling 866-966-1020. If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide or experiencing a psychological health crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1.

In an earlier podcast, we asked listeners to offer their advice about what warriors can do to prepare for and cope with stresses that may arise after returning home from deployment. Tips included: Enjoy being home with your loved ones. Love and embrace your children more each day. Staying safe may require you to reach out—just because you can't see a wound doesn't mean it's not there. And, if you need help to deal with things, search for the help and don't try to ride it out alone.

Looking ahead to future podcasts, we want to hear from you, our listeners. Every month we will feature tips from Real Warriors Campaign podcast subscribers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers. So, sound off. What can warriors do to cope effectively with returning to the civilian workforce? Post your thoughts under Episode 31 at realwarriors.net/podcasts. You can also find and subscribe to Real Warriors podcasts on iTunes.

This is Real Warriors—Real Advice.

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