Taking Care of your Health

Mental/Emotional Health

Knowing When You Need Help

• Am I feeling worse – or not any better – as time passes?

• Am I unable to do my job in the way it needs to be done?

• Is my family suffering because of the way I am acting?

• Am I drinking more alcohol than usual?

• Am I using/abusing drugs?

• Am I having trouble sleeping, or wanting to sleep to much?

• Have I had these problems for more than a few weeks?

Getting Help

PERFORM SELF/BUDDY ASSESSMENT – Ask a battle buddy/friend if you are acting differently than you used to. If those who know you best tell you things are very different, listen to them. The first step is to recognize you need help, then . . .

ASK FOR HELP – It’s okay to seek help. You can utilize a medical treatment facility, counseling services (Mental Health Clinic, Military Family Life Consultant, or Chaplain), Military OneSource, or a local licensed mental health practitioner.

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE – to seek help. A person can go months, even years, without experiencing any physical/mental/emotional health issues. If something triggers depression, anxiety, or other stress reactions within you later in life, again, ASK FOR HELP.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape. 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. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life. Read more about PTSD. Reference: www.ptsd.va.gov; www.nimh.nih.gov


Combat Operational Stress (COS)

COS is characterized by acute and chronic stress faced by those who have experienced combat. Combat Operational Stress differs from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has specific methods that returning veterans need to know in order to adapt. Read more about COS.


Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, (aka: concussion) is the damage caused by the brain-shaking event that occurs at the time of a nearby blast, like an IED of VBIED. Other events such as a close mortar attack, or a basic head injury (getting hit in the head by/with something) can also cause a TBI.

Common symptoms include:
• Blurry or double vision
• Depression
• Difficulty concentrating or thinking
• Difficulty finding words or understanding the speech of others
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Loss of memory
• Sleep difficulties (more or less sleep than pre-injury)
• Tingling, numbness, pain, or other sensations
• Sense of spinning (vertigo)
• Weakness in one or more limbs, facial muscles, or on an entire side of the body
A medical examination is recommended for TBI symptoms.

Read more about TBI. Reference: Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC)s characterized by acute and chronic stress faced by those who have experienced combat. Combat Operational Stress differs from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has specific methods that returning veterans need to know in order to adapt.


Substance Abuse

Alcohol
You have been away on a deployment for a while and your access to alcohol has been severely limited. You may feel the desire to PARTY HARD since you’ve been back. HAVE A BATTLE PLAN FOR WHEN YOU DRINK ALCOHOL!
Call (605) 385-RIDE (7433) if you need a ride.

Reference: Call SAMHSA’s 24-Hour Toll-Free Referral Helpline
at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357).; www.samhsa.gov/vets/index.aspx

Drug
You may have experienced some terrific “adrenaline highs” while being deployed. Your desire to replace those “highs” shouldn’t lead you to Drug Abuse. Methamphetamine or “Meth”, Cocaine and Crack Cocaine are very dangerous replacements for the adrenaline high you may have experienced.

Reference: Call SAMHSA’s 24-Hour Toll-Free Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357). www.samhsa.gov/vets/index.aspx;


Domestic Abuse

Domestic Violence is violence that involves physical harm (slapping, kicking, pushing, throwing things, sexual assault, threatening with a weapon) or emotional & verbal abuse. It comes from a person’s need to feel powerful and in control of another person’s behavior and actions.

Reference: Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), National Domestic Violence Hotline, local hospital, Family Advocacy, Family Violence Prevention Fund, National Sexual Violence Resource Center


Sexual Trauma

Help is available for returning veterans that need help combating any type of sexual trauma. Contact the Sexual Assault Prevention & Response 385-SARC (7272) on base for immediate assistance. Additionally, the VA and Vet Centers offer Military Sexual Trauma Counseling.


Suicide Awareness

If you or your wingman are experiencing any of the following symptoms related to suicide, PLEASE CALL THE SUICIDE HOTLINE, at
1-800-273-TALK (8255).

It takes a strong person to ask for help, AND ASKING FOR HELP IS OKAY.

Possible Signs of Suicide:
• Appears depressed: sad, tearful, and/or hopeless
• Does not eat or exhibits a poor appetite
• Constantly tired
• Threatens suicide
• Talks about wanting to die
• Shows changes in behavior, appearance, or mood that are negative or self-depreciating
• Abuses drugs, alcohol
• Deliberately injures self
• Gives away possessions

Provide AID:
• Ask. Do not be afraid to ask “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?”
• Intervene immediately.
• Do not keep it a secret.

Follow the acronym LIFE:
• Locate help 1-800-273-TALK(8255) (chaplain, doctor, nurse, friend, family, crisis line, hospital emergency room).
• Inform someone immediately.
• Find someone to stay with the person—do not leave him or her alone.
• Expedite (get help immediately. A suicidal person needs prompt attention by professionals).


Gambling

Gambling is everywhere, from the convenience store Lotto, to the casinos, to online gambling sites. As a deployed Airman, you may have saved up a lot of money of dollars. Not everyone who gambles has a gambling problem. If you are experiencing any the following signs related to your desire to gamble SEEK HELP.

Some warning signs of a gambling problem might include:

• Looking for the “high” that comes from gambling
• Increasing isolation from family and friends
• Declining work performance
• Neglecting basic needs like money for food and rent
• Pressuring others for money as financial problems arise
• Lying about how money is spent
• Escaping to other excesses (alcohol, drugs, sleep)
• Denying there is a problem
• Borrowing/stealing money (credit cards) to gamble

References: National Center for Responsible Gambling; State of California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs – Problem Gambling