OEF Crisis Hotline Gives Stressed Troops an Outlet Downrange

More than 1,000 runners came out for the OEF Crisis Hotline 5K, hosted May 24 at six USO Centers in Afghanistan. USO photos by Eric Raum

More than 1,000 runners came out for the OEF Crisis Hotline 5K, hosted May 24 at six USO Centers across Afghanistan. USO photos by Eric Raum

It was a run for those who feel trapped.

Six USO centers in Afghanistan hosted more than 1,000 total runners for a 5K on May 24 to promote the OEF Crisis Hotline, a downrange-based call center troops can contact if they are dealing with stress or other mental health issues. The hotline has two mental health professionals on duty 24 hours a day.

The USO – which has been advertising the hotline to troops via posters at downrange centers – provided prizes for the top three male and female finishers.

Sgt. Kristian Patino of the Army’s 254th Medical Detachment said the hotline fills a void downrange and is modeled off a similar system the Department of Veterans Affairs operates stateside.

“It is peer support in its purest form,” Patino said. “You have service members here in Afghanistan going through the same struggles and dealing with the same issues as whoever would be calling in, so they are able to connect with the caller and relate to them.”

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The hotline – which was originally run by the 254th Medical Detachment in Kandahar – is now operated by the Army’s 85th Combat Operational Stress Control Detachment out of Bagram.

Patino believes the hotline makes a difference.

“One instance, a woman called in and was very frantic, in a complete panic and crying,” Patino said. “When we were done, it was a day and night shift. We worked through relaxation techniques and talked through what was troubling her.”

Troops downrange can reach the OEF Crisis Hotline the following ways:

Stateside troops and veterans can reach the VA’s Military Crisis Line by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and then pressing 1. Europe-based troops can reach the Military Crisis Line by dialing 00800 1273 8255 on regular phones or 118 on DSN lines.

–Story by Eric Raum and Eric Brandner, USO

Neck Up, Check Up

Today we’d like to share with you a special message from Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE):
May is Mental Health Month and a great opportunity to combat any stigma that may prevent our Warriors, Veterans and their loved ones from seeking help for the invisible wounds of war.

We are also trying to create more awareness on resources avaible to our Airmen, Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Reserves, Guard, Veterans and their Families related to PTSD, anxiety, depression and traumatic brain injuryby starting a viral “campaign.”

Post “Neck up, Check up” in your status sometime during the month of May to get the conversation started! Once there’s a buzz, direct your Facebook friends to http://www.facebook.com/DCoEpage to learn more.

Be sure to send to all of your “friends” and ask them to do the same. Let’s break the silence of stigma.

The DCoE also runs a resource center that provides information and resources about psychological health (PH), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI) to:

  • Service Members
  • Families and Friends
  • Military Leaders
  • Clinicians
  • Educators
  • Support Personnel
  • Clergy
  • Researchers
  • Deployed Government Civilians
  • The center can be contacted 24/7 by phone at 866-966-1020 or by e-mail at resources@dcoeoutreach.org. Calls are toll-free.

    DCoE was created in November 2007. DCoE is the open front door of the Department of Defense for warriors and their families needing help with PH and TBI issues, promoting the resilience, recovery and reintegration of warriors and their families.

    DCoE partners with the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and a national network of military and civilian agencies, community leaders, advocacy groups, clinical experts, and academic institutions to establish best practices and quality standards for the treatment of PH and TBI. Our work is carried out across these major areas: clinical care; education and training; prevention; research and patient, family and community outreach.

    In addition, DCoE is working to tear down the stigma that still deters some from seeking treatment for problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and TBI with our Real Warriors Campaign.