Combat stress is an issue that concerns all healthcare professionals and military officers who support and facilitate military readiness. When YOU reflect on the phenomenon we call Combat stress, do you consider it:
An undesirable consequence of war?
A disabling force affecting our military men and women? OR
A source of growth and strength voluntarily sought by those with hardy attitudes?
A challenging test one takes to affirm and strengthen personal values for success in life?
For nearly four decades, I had the honor of serving on the staff of the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, retiring in the fall of 2011 as his chief of staff. During that time, I was actively involved within the governance of the American Psychological Association (APA) and served as its President in 2000. Over the years, we have observed many changes within the field of mental health, both from the “front line” and at the all-important health policy level. Perhaps the most significant of these changes has been external to any of the mental health disciplines – it is the gradual acceptance by society of the importance and appropriateness of receiving quality mental health care, in the same manner that it is now “all right” to openly discuss receiving treatment for cancer or diabetes.
The much-anticipated movie “Concussion” was released on Christmas Day, and already there is Oscar Award talk for Will Smith, who plays the role of Dr. Bennet Omalu. It was Dr. Omalu who discovered the tragic progressive degenerative effects of years of multiple concussions in NFL players, which he named CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). The film highlights the NFL’s initial response of anger and denial. Indeed, since Dr. Omalu’s discovery in 2002, the NFL has experienced lawsuits, exposés, and finger-pointing in general.