The fraction of military members moved by the Department of Defense every year, according to a recent RAND Corporation report -- Tour Lengths, Permanent Changes of Station, and Alternatives for Savings and Improved Stability. The report looked at how much money could be saved if DoD reduced the number of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves by extending tours of duty. Because a variety of alternatives were considered, the estimated annual savings range was broad -- $19 million to $84 million.
Over the past several years I have seen the same bewildered expression on the faces of numerous Veterans as they struggle to understand and explain their own actions. After several months of treatment, one such client was finally able to articulate, “It’s like there’s a switch in my head that suddenly turns on and it takes everything I’ve got to fight the impulse to do something crazy.”
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?
If you spend any time talking candidly with a Veteran or active duty Service member who has deployed during recent military campaigns, you will shortly determine that they are generally hypervigilant and risk averse. As a clinical psychologist working with Service members and Veterans who have deployed in support of OIF, OEF, etc., I continue to realize anecdotal interventions to help address and decrease the negative impact and/or influence of disruptive post-deployment adjustment issues resulting from deployment experiences (to include trauma experiences). This blog entry will address “risk aversion” (i.e., the post-deployed service member’s or veteran’s tendency to avoid things that, from their perspective, might put their safety or security at risk such as being in crowds, not having control of a situation, going places without plan, etc…). This “protective” avoidance is extended to the Service member or Veteran’s family and/or loved ones and consequently, has a significant impact on their lives as well.