Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: What’s the Difference between PTS, PTSD?

Discover these awe inspiring Second Gulf War books written by real-life veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

By Dr. James Bender

Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

Hello. I was talking to our DCoE social media people a few weeks ago and they were saying that some people confuse post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with post-traumatic stress. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially for people who don’t spend a lot of time studying the topic. However, there are significant differences between the two and it’s useful for our nation’s warriors and the people who support them to know about them.

Post-traumatic stress is a common, normal and often adaptive response to experiencing a traumatic or stressful event. If you’ve ever been a bit shocked or rattled after a car accident or had a close call with a physical injury (falling off a ladder, nearly drowning or being in a combat situation) you may have noticed your heart racing and maybe your hands shook for a while. You might find yourself leery about engaging in the activity that almost injured you. Being more careful in a potentially dangerous situation is one of the positive outcomes of post-traumatic stress. Other experiences, like avoiding the activity that almost got you hurt or feeling scared, will subside in time.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a clinically-diagnosed condition. Anyone who has experienced or witnessed a situation involving the possibility of death or serious injury can develop PTSD (although many people who experience traumatic situations recover after a period of adjustment). PTSD symptoms include reliving the event through nightmares, flashbacks or constantly thinking about the incident. Other symptoms include avoiding situations or people that remind you of the event, trouble feeling positive emotions, and being constantly jittery, nervous, or “on edge.” These symptoms must be present for more than one month to qualify for a PTSD diagnoses.

Key differences:

■Post-traumatic stress symptoms resolve on their own and improve within a month. PTSD symptoms are more severe, numerous and interfere with normal life
■Post-traumatic stress is common and most people with post-traumatic stress do not develop PTSD
■PTSD is a medically-diagnosed condition

Those with PTSD have many effective treatments available to them. There are medications that are FDA-approved to treat PTSD and therapy techniques, like exposure therapy and cognitive therapy. If you have, or think you may have PTSD, the best thing for you to do is to educate yourself, download the PTSD Coach mobile app, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, or contact the DCoE Outreach Center for material.

Thanks for reading and for your service. Please respond to this post if you have any questions or comments. Stay safe.

Germantown Works to Gain Amphibious Warfare Certification

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Spencer Mickler, Amphibious Squadron 11 Public Affairs

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors aboard forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) worked toward amphibious warfare (AMW) certification Sept. 23.

Germantown must gain certification to perform amphibious operations, and is being tested by inspectors from Naval Beach Group 1.

"The amphibious warfare mission is our primary mission. Without that ability we can't be an asset to the U.S. Navy", said Cmdr. Jason Leach, Germantown executive officer. "That's the whole reason we are out here".

The certification process will take several days, in which inspectors will observe and test the crew in operationally critical areas.

"We're out here to check the preparedness of our forward-deployed assets," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Robert Saenz, of Naval Beach Group 1. "We assess the readiness and training of the crew in any area that involves the well deck operations including cranes, material conditions as well as small boat operations."

"So far they are doing great from top to bottom; this is what we see if the ship has good leadership and training," said Saenz.

Many of the crew members attribute their success during the certification thus far to the things they do on a daily basis.

"Train, train, train, even when we don't have any vehicles aboard we'll use a make-shift dummy so that we can keep training for an actual incident," said Damage Controlman Fireman Bryce Griffin. "That's why our team is getting the job done for this AMW certification".

"We deploy and operate a lot, and whenever we train we always go back to the basics," said Leach. "We always review and follow the instruction that way our Sailors know what to do."

Crew members aboard Germantown and inspectors will continue the certification process while embarking elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa.

Germantown is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. J. Scott Jones, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.

Family, friends bid farewell to Kosovo bound Wisconsin Guard Soldiers

There was no shortage of support for approximately 30 deploying Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers during an official sendoff ceremony in West Bend Saturday (Sept. 24).

Gov. Scott Walker joined other state officials, family, friends and Wisconsin Guard leadership in honoring the Soldiers before a 12-month mobilization - which includes approximately two months of pre-deployment training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., followed by roughly 10 months in Kosovo in support of the NATO-led peacekeeping mission Kosovo Force, or KFOR.

Walker thanked the deploying Guard members on behalf of a "grateful state and nation" for the service they've already given and the sacrifice they'll give over the course of the next year.

The bulk of the Soldiers come from Company F, 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment and will support the medevac mission as part of KFOR's Aviation Task Force. Twelve Soldiers, assigned to 248th Aviation Support Battalion, will join units from North Dakota, New Jersey and Wyoming to support the ATF's headquarters, lift and maintenance units, respectively.

"The Soldiers' experience is going to be perfect for this mission because the terrain and flying we do here is similar to what we'll be doing in Kosovo," said Capt. Joseph Bradley, commander of Detachment 1, Company B, 248th Aviation Battalion. "We'll do our peace sustainment mission and we'll do it well."

State Command Sgt. Maj. George Stopper spoke to the families in attendance and, by show of hands, polled the deploying Soldiers on deployment experience. He urged the Soldiers with prior deployment experience to guide newer Soldiers through the process.

Pfc. Alex Mumm, 238th flight operations specialist, is anxious to begin his first deployment.

"It'll be interesting to get over there and find out what a deployment is all about," Mumm said. "I'm definitely ready to be over there."

Kosovo Force - a cooperation between 30 countries, including 22 NATO nations - has worked to provide peace and stability in the area since 1999. Roughly 150 Soldiers of the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade are currently training at Camp Atterbury and will report to Kosovo in late November.

Kristi Dilley, Mumm's girlfriend, said she plans to use every means of communication available to stay in touch.

"Duty has called, but he'll always be in my heart," Dilley said. "He's worth the wait."

Pacom Commander: North Korea Remains Central Concern

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By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2011 – North Korea’s challenges to Asia-Pacific security and stability were most acute in 2010, but remain a central concern for U.S. Pacific Command, Pacom’s commander said today.

North Korea’s nuclear program and military objectives are a Pacom focus, and the command’s people work within the U.S. government and with regional partners to see North Korea “change trajectory,” Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard told reporters at the Foreign Press Center here.

In March 2010, North Korean forces sank the South Korean ship Cheonan, killing 46 South Korean sailors. In November, North Korea launched an artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, killing two South Korean marines and two civilians. In the wake of those attacks, the attitude of South Korea’s leaders and people has “fundamentally changed,” Willard said.

“There is very strong … intolerance at this point for any further provocations,” he added.

Kim Jong-un’s rise to prominence as North Korea’s likely next ruler, following his father, Kim Jong-il, may mean further provocations will come, Willard said.

“In the past, succession has come with provocation as the new leadership has attempted to establish their bona fides with the North Korean military,” the admiral said.

Kim Jong-un’s prominence during the 2010 attacks “was not lost on us,” Willard said. “The prospects that he could be somehow accountable in a next provocation [are] important to understand as well,” he added.

Kim Jong-il’s health may largely determine the timing of future attacks, the admiral noted.

“We watch North Korea closely, as you would expect us to,” Willard said. “We try to determine the succession dynamics that are ongoing, especially as we approach 2012, which the North Koreans have declared as an auspicious year for themselves and what that may portend in terms of Kim Jong-un’s leadership position.”

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. In January, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he believed North Korea would develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that would be a “direct threat” to the United States within five years.

Willard said members of his command watch North Korea’s nuclear developments “very carefully.”

“We are concerned … that [Kim Jong-il] will continue to promote his ballistic missile programs, as well as his weapon programs,” the admiral said. “It’s very much the subject of the discussions that are going on right now between the United States and [North Korea], and I think South Korea and [North Korea] as well.”

In response to a question on a possible U.S. sale of Global Hawk surveillance vehicles to South Korea, Willard said he has frequent discussions with South Korean officials about their capabilities and “the potential for U.S. procurement of defense articles that can service their needs.”

“There are discussions ongoing with regard to surveillance capabilities in the South, and I think the United States, as you know, is very guarded about these high-tech capabilities being provided as defense articles. So that discussion is, in fact, occurring,” the admiral said, noting the countries’ strong alliance.

“When you consider … the fact that we have 30,000 troops in the Republic of Korea and we are very, very closely aligned with the Koreans in terms of all our military capabilities, the prospects that our highly technical capabilities could ultimately be part of a foreign military sale is a consideration,” he said.

Defense Intelligence Agency Celebrates 50-Year Legacy

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2011 – Since it began operations Oct. 1, 1961, the Defense Intelligence Agency has changed along with the nature of national security threats worldwide to become a key component of the U.S. intelligence community.

Today, according to agency officials, DIA is first in “all-source defense intelligence” – incorporating all sources of information -- to prevent strategic surprise and to support warfighters, defense planners and policymakers.

DIA manages and supplies all-source intelligence, and since the terrorist attacks in 2001, a growing number of DIA intelligence professionals have deployed globally alongside warfighters and interagency partners.

“We are more forward-deployed than ever, operating alongside our combat troops in harm’s way,” DIA Director Army Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr. said in a statement.

“DIA has an entire generation of intelligence professionals who know only wartime service. … They are very good at what they do, they’re committed to the mission, and they’re the best we’ve ever had,” he added.

The 9/11 attacks had a range of other effects on DIA and the rest of the intelligence community, including prompting the 2004 creation by Congress of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which assumed many functions of the positions of director and deputy director of central intelligence.

This and similar recommendations by the National Commission of the Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission, increased the practice of embedding analysts and other professionals from various agencies in each other’s operations.

“When you go forward, you find CIA, [the National Security Agency], [the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency], DIA -- everybody working together right there on the floor in a tactical operations center or supporting a command,” DIA Deputy Director for Analysis Jeffrey N. Rapp told American Forces Press Service. “It’s really pretty remarkable the kinds of collaboration and integration that’s going on to enable operations.”

Such integration has helped prepare DIA for the future, Rapp said. “We may not be poised immediately for every possible problem we’re going to run into,” he added, “but one thing I’ve found is that we’re pretty adaptive.”

An example this year was Operation Unified Protector, he said.

“[Libya] wasn’t the top target on our radar screen, let’s face it,” Rapp said. “Yet within a matter of three weeks, we were implementing a complete change in national policy through an air campaign supporting combat operations.”

The 9/ll Commission’s recommendations also prompted intelligence agencies to improve information sharing within the federal government and among federal, state, and local authorities and with allies.

An enabling technology for such sharing is Analytic Space, or A-Space, a project on a classified network on the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System that was initiated by the ODNI Office of Analytic Transformation and Technology as a collaborative space for intelligence community analysts.

DIA was the executive agent for building the network’s first phase.

“It is a place where analysts can go, and at the highest classification levels, collaborate on ideas, discuss analytic issues and exchange information,” Rapp said.

A-Space is cross-agency and cross-topic, he added. “Analysts can get together more easily than just through email contact or even telephone, and it’s more like what our younger folks are used to doing today.”

Another example is the Library of National Intelligence, created by the ODNI and the CIA as an authoritative intelligence community repository for all disseminated intelligence products, regardless of classification.

A key feature is a card catalog that has summary information for each report classified at the lowest possible level to allow analysts to discover nearly anything that has been published by the community regardless of document classification.

“All the production produced by the [intelligence community] every month goes to this Library of National Intelligence,” DIA Information Sharing Executive Roland P. Fabia told American Forces Press Service.

“There are probably 10 million holdings that analysts are accessing,” he added, “and it’s not only finished intelligence, it’s also raw intelligence.”

DIA’s first major challenge was in 1962, when the Soviet Union secretly placed nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in Cuba and DIA analysts played a key role in their discovery. Today, the agency’s work includes global terrorist movements, insurgencies and arms proliferation, along with the convergence of advanced technology, a complex and shifting international political environment, and increasing competition for global resources.

“If you look at where we came from and why DIA was created, it was an integrative agency to help pull military intelligence and military capabilities and defense analysis together for the department and for the nation,” Rapp said.

DIA, in collaboration with the services and the combatant commands, “helps focus and provide the best possible decision advantage to our senior-most policymakers,’ he added, “whether it’s the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] and the secretary of defense, or the president. So, I think DIA is on a good path.”

“The nation has been understandably focused on current operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere since 9/11, [but] the rest of the world has not stood still. Other nations have used this period as their windows of opportunity,” Burgess said.

“While supporting troops in harm’s way,” the director added, “DIA must also maintain a sharp focus to ensure that our efforts to combat transnational terrorists do not blind us to strategic surprise elsewhere.”

Leap Frogs Race Into Coronado Speed Festival

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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (PJ) Michelle Turner, U.S. Navy Parachute Team Public Affairs

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, performed during the opening ceremony of the 14th annual Coronado Speed Festival at Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) in Coronado, Sept. 24-25.

The festival was one of the flagship events of Fleet Week San Diego, which allows local residents and visitors to celebrate the spirit and achievements of Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen through a series of public events.

The event attracted nearly 20,000 people to the base, which is usually closed to civilians. More than 250 vintage cars raced on the runways at NASNI and around 1,500 classic cars were on display for spectators. Navy jets, helicopters, hovercraft and a rigid-hull inflatable boat were also on display to help commemorate the Centennial of Naval Aviation at the birthplace of Naval aviation - NASNI.

"The Leap Frogs are awesome," said Capt. Yancy B. Lindsey, commanding officer of Naval Base Coronado. "They really add a great dimension to Coronado Speed Festival. Navy SEALs - American people love them, they love to see them so it's really not the opening ceremonies without the Leap Frogs."

The sky opened up after a cloudy San Diego morning just in time for the Leap Frogs to perform. A trail of smoke indicated that the team was ready to jump out of the C-2A Greyhound, assigned to the Providers of Fleet Logistics Combat Support Squadron (VRC) 30, and seconds later five Leap Frogs were in freefall flight. Two jumpers stacked their canopies in a bi-plane maneuver while the other three jumpers flew a POW/MIA flag, a checkered flag and an American flag with different colored smoke.

Musician 3rd Class Spencer Haasenritter, assigned to the Navy Band Southwest, sang the national anthem, which concluded just as the last jumper came in to land with the American flag.

"The pageantry of the opening ceremony component to me is why everybody is here," said Alexandra Squires, executive director for the Fleet Week San Diego Foundation. "They're here to honor the military and by having the Leap Frogs come out of the sky from nowhere is amazing!"

Fleet Week is a great opportunity to open the gates of NASNI to the public, said Lindsey. People can come in and interact with Sailors and see what equipment they operate and maintain. The proceeds from the event support Naval Base Coronado's Morale, Welfare and Recreation funds.

The Leap Frogs are based in San Diego and perform aerial parachute demonstrations across America in support of Naval Special Warfare and Navy Recruiting as a global force for good. The team is composed of parachuting experts from Naval Special Warfare including Navy SEALs, special warfare combatant-craft crewmen, and an NSW parachute rigger, in addition to support personnel.

For more information about the Leap Frogs, visit leapfrogs.navy.mil.