PTSD Resources: Where to Turn When You Need Help

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean troops and families trying to cope with the anguish of war memories or even mental and emotional trauma from traumatic brain injuries will be forgotten.

Here is a list of resources for both troops and families dealing with PTSD.

And as always, if you or someone you know needs to talk to someone immediately, call the Military Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact them online at militarycrisisline.net.

  • OEF Crisis Hotline: Hosted by the Army in Afghanistan for troops deployed downrange, personnel are fielding phone calls and answering email around the clock. Click here for contact information.
  • USO Caregivers Conferences: Held on or near different military installations around the United States, these USO conferences discuss caregivers’ issues like resiliency, communication, compassion fatigue and how to talk to children after a parent has been injured.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs: Not only do they host the Military Crisis Line, but they can also direct you to counseling options and a host of other resources. Visit them at mentalhealth.va.gov.
  • USO/Stronger Families Oxygen Seminars: This Bothell, Wash.-based nonprofit helps couples – especially military couples affected by injuries or long separations – open the lines of communication. Their Oxygen Seminars have become a key partner program of USO Warrior and Family Care.
  • USO/Ride 2 Recovery: Ride 2 Recovery – in partnership with the USO – holds challenge events for wounded, ill and injured troops to both boost camaraderie and build physical stamina and confidence.
  • Family readiness officers, family support groups and family support centers: While some may be more robust than others, every branch of the military has family support services. These officers and groups are huge information resources. Contact your command to find out what groups are available for your family.
  • Aggregate lists: Along the same lines as the VA site, the Washington Post has an easy-to-navigate rundown of warning signs, benefits and services and how to find help.
  • If in doubt: Call the Military Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact them online at militarycrisisline.net.

–Story by USO Story Development

Presenter Encourages Military Caregivers to Promote Positive Emotions

According to Steve Shenbaum, the root causes of video game addiction aren’t that complicated.

Image

Steve Shenbaum, founder and president of game on Nation, speaks Monday at the USO Caregivers Conference at Camp Pendleton, Calif. USO photo by Michael Clifton

It seemed like an odd thing to bring up in front of a room full of military caregivers, but Shenbaum was on the way to a powerful point: the lessons we can take from knowing why kids spend hours mashing buttons in front of televisions can be applied successfully major life endeavors like fortifying relationships in times of stress.

Shenbaum is the founder and president of game on Nation, a firm specializing in communication, leadership, character development and media training. He traveled to the USO Caregivers Conference at Camp Pendleton, Calif., on Monday to talk to a room full of spouses, parents and devoted friends who play crucial roles in the care of their wounded, ill and injured loved ones.

His theory is that video games enthrall people because they satisfy four emotional cravings: empowerment, mystery, competition and humor.

“As we interact with people, I think it’s important to show [we care] before we say it,” he said.

Shenbaum spent the rest of his time showing the caregivers in the audience how they could target those four cravings to grow their relationship with their recovering family members by providing interactions where those same emotions were experienced. He engaged in roleplaying with the audience in games like “Expert Speaker” – an fun routine where both participants built confidence through boastful banter – and “Dimmer Switch,” where participants practice ramping their mood up and down to accommodate certain situations.

By the time he finished, Shenbaum had passed on several tips on how to help navigate the stressful caregiver lifestyle.

“As a caregiver, too, a lot of times, you’re the pilot,” he said. “And we don’t want pilots to say ‘I hope we get there.’”

–Story by Eric Brandner, USO Director of Story Development