Saturday, June 27, 2015

Carter Praises U.S. Troops in Germany for Deterring Aggression

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter yesterday thanked U.S. troops stationed at Grafenwoehr, Germany, and told them their presence is important to the way of life that people in America and in Europe enjoy.

“You are deterring aggression. You're preparing to respond to crises. You're preparing to deal with terrorism,” the secretary said. “And this is necessary in order for civilized society to exist. And we do it with our colleagues here in Europe, because by and large, they see things the way we do. They share a lot of the same values that we have.”

A year ago, Carter noted, the NATO alliance was wondering what it was going to do after Afghanistan. “And in the intervening year,” he added, “we've discovered not only one thing to do, but two things to do.”

Russia, ISIL Pose Challenges

NATO is challenged by Russia’s actions and by what the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant means for the alliance’s southern and southeastern flanks and the nations that live there, the secretary told the troops. “And that has reminded this continent of the need for us to work hard to protect our own people,” he said. “It's not a birthright that you get to live life the way people here in Germany do, the way people do in the United States. We need what we have, which is the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”

Carter told the troops that military leaders and the American people appreciate what they’re doing. “I think, speaking for all of our fellow citizens in the United States, [that we are] deeply grateful to you, proud of you, admiring of you and what you do,” he said.

The men and women serving the nation are “what I wake up for every morning,” Carter said.

“It's the people in our military that make us great," he added. "We have great equipment. We have great training and training ranges. And, you know, all that's true, but at the end of the day, what makes us the best is you.”

Force of the Future

Getting good people to join the military and continue to serve is his most important responsibility, Carter said, “because we have to make the force of the future from the people who are going to be our future, and that's you.”

During a question-and-answer session that followed his remarks, the secretary said that although he doesn’t foresee an increase in permanent stationing, he does expect to see increases in operational tempo, training tempo and rotational presence for U.S. forces in Europe.

“We need people at home, because they need to be with their families and so forth,” he said. “But we need our military to be familiar with the rest of the world, because that's where conflicts are. And that's where we're going to become engaged. And if you've never been here, you're going to have a big learning curve if we ever deploy you here. And that's not going to be either fair to you or effective.”

DoD Observes National PTSD Awareness Day

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2015 – Today’s National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day observance reflects how PTSD became known as an “invisible wound of war” during more than a decade of combat, a Defense Health Agency official said.

John Davison, a clinical psychologist and chief of condition-based specialty care in DHA’s clinical support division, said in a June 24 DoD News interview that it’s important to recognize PTSD’s signs and symptoms.

“We know a lot more about PTSD today than we did after previous wars, such as Vietnam,” Davison said, noting that symptoms of PTSD have existed in every war in American history.

The Senate established PTSD Awareness Day in 2010 following then-Sen. Kent Conrad’s efforts to designate a day of awareness as tribute to Army Staff Sgt. Joe Biel of the North Dakota National Guard, Davison said. Biel suffered from PTSD and took his life in April 2007 after returning to North Dakota following his second tour of duty in the Iraq War.

Biel’s birthday, June 27, was chosen to mark PTSD Awareness Day and honor his memory.

“It’s important to know that deploying to a combat zone does not necessarily cause one to [develop] PTSD,” Davison said. “The vast majority who deploy in dangerous situations do not develop PTSD.”

Know PTSD Symptoms

Nonetheless, service members, veterans and their family members and friends should learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of PTSD, he added.

 “PTSD has an identifiable cause, which is experiencing or witnessing a significant trauma,” he said. “The disorder is treatable at any stage, whether it’s an early or late onset [or] a severe or a mild case,” Davison explained. People who might have symptoms should get treatment early, he said, before symptoms worsen or they turn to unhealthy ways of coping with the symptoms, such as abusing alcohol or drugs.

Returning service members might not talk about traumatizing experiences, Davison acknowledged, but he noted that others around them might recognize hallmark symptoms. Signs of PTSD, he said, can include re-experiencing the trauma, avoiding reminders of the trauma, and disturbances in thoughts or moods.

Some have a tendency to isolate themselves, withdraw from trauma reminders and avoid public places such as malls and large events, Davison said. Some people with PTSD might emotionally detach or become estranged from people to whom they were once close, he added.

Signs of ‘Survivor Guilt’

Others might allude to blaming themselves for a trauma experienced by someone else, which is called “survivor guilt,” Davison said. “If someone close died as result of trauma, those with PTSD might wonder, ‘Why him and not me?’” he said.

Another category of symptoms features hyperactivity -- the person remains “on guard,” has angry outbursts, problems with sleep, and reckless or self-destructive behavior, Davison said.

 Successful Treatments Vary

 The good news is that DoD and the Veterans Affairs Department have gone to great lengths to increase access to evidence-based treatment for PTSD, Davison said.

“The Army has embedded [behavioral health] providers close to operational units to increase access to help and decrease stigma some might feel [about] pursuing mental health treatment or counseling,” he said. “We have a number of effective treatments available that have demonstrated through research to be helpful.”

Treatments range from various psychotherapy approaches to pharmacotherapy -- using “very safe, common medications for depression and anxiety” that can accompany disorder symptoms, Davison said.

Counseling is available from an individual’s primary care doctor, and they also can talk to a behavioral health provider, he said. Counseling also is available from a behavioral health specialty clinic, he added, and nonclinical settings where people can talk to a chaplain or access help from Military OneSource or VA’s readjustment counseling services.

Those feeling acutely distressed should call the Military/Veterans Crisis Line, Davison said. The hotline is available at 800-273-8255 [Call: 800-273-8255] -- press 1 or text 838255.

Warrior Games Athletes Compete in Shooting Medal Rounds

By Shannon Collins
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., June 27, 2015 – The line whittled down to the medal rounds here yesterday, as Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and British forces adaptive athletes took part in the air rifle and air pistol shooting competitions during the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

No service branch dominated, and the men and women shot against each other as one.

“In shooting, there is no gender discrimination. It’s all the same across the board,” said medically retired Marine Corps Sgt. Jenae Piper, who earned a gold medal in the standing rifle. “I absolutely love it. It makes us feel more like equals.”

Piper said the competition was a challenge for her, because she didn’t take her usual medication to keep her calm when dealing with crowds. She, like many of the athletes, has post-traumatic stress, but she doesn’t let that distract her from her goal.

“It felt awesome to keep up with the competition, even though it was nerve-wracking,” she said. “The medication could’ve slowed me down and affected my shooting. It felt great to win for the Marine Corps.”

A Chance at Redemption

Royal Marines Cpl. Paul Vice said his bronze medal in the air rifle prone was a chance at redemption.

“I shot really well in the standing qualification, but not well in the final,” he said. “I had a slow start, but I was getting better and better. I’ve shot against Gunny Aquino for a few years now, and if you give him the lead, you can’t get it back. He’s steady all the way. I’m happy to represent my country and to have gotten a medal today.” Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Pedro Aquino earned the gold medal in the event.

Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Waugh earned a silver medal in the standing rifle, losing out to Piper, and had something to prove as well.

“It’s nice to come out and actually show that the Air Force can shoot, that there are people -- battlefield airmen and the general Air Force -- who can shoot and compete,” the tactical air control party airman said. “It’s always nice to come out and show the other services that we are not the ‘Chair Force.’”