Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Real Warriors Campaign offers support to American soldiers returning home

USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Barton
127th CES Returns to Selfridge
Members of the 127th Civil Engineer Squadron of the Michigan Air National Guard, at right, returning to their home station at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., on Sept, 1, 2011, after a six-month deployment in Afghanistan.

It's a wonderful occasion when someone in the family returns home from deployment. But it can be a difficult time for the service member who faces the unique challenge of balancing their military service with civilian life -- and especially stressful when it means carrying on without those with whom they served. Playing a major role in helping servicemen adapt to their conditions is the Real Warriors Campaign. 

Sponsored by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, the Real Warriors Campaign (DCoE) is a public education initiative designed to encourage service members, veterans and their families to seek care and treatment for the invisible wounds of war. "Warriors are hesitant to seek treatment for invisible wounds because of a fear that it will affect their career, but that's a myth," said Capt. Paul S. Hammer, DCoE director. "In fact, if you don't seek help, it will affect your career down the road. Symptoms may affect a service member's ability to do his or her job effectively."

The Real Warriors Campaign website arms military personnel with resources to help them deal with transitions and reintegration. Below are examples of what is available to active members of the armed forces, veterans and military families:

DCoE Outreach Center 
For those who need to talk things out, there is the Outreach Center, which allows anyone to confidentially speak with health care professionals 24/7 by phone, through an online Live Chat or through emails. The 24-hour hotline is 866-966-1020 and the email is resources@dcoeoutreach.org.

Military mentors 
At the heart of the campaign are other warriors who are reaching out to their comrades to provide encouraging examples related to their own journey through reintegration. Among the public service announcements and video profiles on the website is that of Staff Sgt. Meg Karuse, an Army Reservist, who overcame the challenges associated with combat stress. She is now sharing the message that it is OK to ask for help.

News military members can use
 The campaign website also features informative articles for members of the military community including those in the National Guard and Reserve who are at all stages of the deployment cycle. Some of the topics covered: How Guard and Reserve veterans can get support from the VA; The Yellow Ribbon Program; The free support program for warriors in transition.

Community message board
 This service enables members of the military to access a forum where they can engage directly with other members of their military community. Visitors to the campaign message boards can join the conversation or start their own dialogue with warriors and their families.

Educational resources
Information such as the Real Warriors Campaign Brochure for the National Guard and Reserve: “7 Tools that Reinforce Psychological Strength can be ordered free of charge.”
E-Cards and constant encouragement. The website also serves as a means for active members of the military, veterans, friends and family to share messages of support and thanks through e-card greetings. Reach out and make a difference today by sending your message to a member of the military, a friend or loved one.

Every service member and their families should feel comfortable reaching out to their units and chain of command for support, said Hammer, "Reaching out is a sign of strength that benefits yourself, your family and your unit."

For further details visit Real Warriors Campaign here For general inquiries, email dcoe.realwarriors@tma.osd.mil.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come -- Anne Lamott.

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