Monday, May 11, 2009

Five Soldiers killed at Camp Libery, What are Stress Clinics?

U.S. soldier killed five at Camp Liberty’s stress clinic.

What's a stress clinic?

In July 2005, I did a story on the stress clinic at Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq. This stress clinic is separate from the stress clinic at Camp Liberty. However, I figured this could shed some light on what exactly a stress clinic is.

"Being deployed in a war zone can affect Soldiers in a variety of ways. Whether a Soldier suffers from combat stress, problems at home, substance abuse, or unit and leadership conflicts the 55th Medical Company, Combat Stress Control, Indianapolis, Ind., here has an assortment of programs set up for intervention.

The Soldiers at the Restoration Clinic understand that many people need an opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings, and problems in a non-judgmental, therapeutic way. Soldiers on Anaconda have the choice of walking in, making an appointment, or they may be recommended by their command to receive individual counseling and treatment.

"We don't turn anyone way, and they would be seen and evaluated the day they walk-in," said Maj. Richard Boone, officer-in-charge of the Restoration Program.

The clinic offers therapeutic intervention classes to include: Relaxation Techniques, Stress Management, Home Front Issues, Communication Skills, Anger Management, Anxiety Awareness, Open Forum, and Depression Awareness. The main objective of the classes is for soldiers to communicate what they are experiencing, look at their own reactions to the stressors, and to see if they can resolve or alter the issue themselves.

"We are about returning Soldiers to full duty, better equipped to handle their stressors, and having a greater sense of personal well-being," Boone said.

When Soldiers come to the clinic, they may enter the Restoration Program. The program is over a three-day period, and focuses on certain classes that would benefit the individual Soldier and one-on-one counseling. However, many Soldiers do not need the full program and they would usually be back to duty within a day with follow-up care as needed, Boone said. In case a Soldier needs more then 72 hours of intervention, the staff offers a Residential Program, where they may stay up to two weeks depending on their condition and response to the treatment.

For Soldiers at other forward operating bases, the staff put together a squad known as the Prevention Team; these Soldiers travel frequently to assist troops. When they visit Soldiers their goals are to offer critical incident debriefings if someone suffered a traumatic event and to make them aware that they have someone to talk to if need be. Soldiers may also be brought into the clinic to be given additional counseling.

The staff is aware that Soldiers may feel awkward about talking to an unfamiliar person about personal problems and anxious about the process. Soldiers will be glad to know that the information they share with the combat stress staff is almost always confidential, Boone said. There are exceptions, however, when issues of dangerous behavior or illegality arise or if the Soldier is a direct command referral. In such cases some information could be shared with other healthcare providers or with the Soldier's command.

"We treat everyone who comes in here as adults, as Soldiers who are doing important work," Boone said. "We treat them with respect, friendliness, and compassion."

Being expected to carry out missions is challenging and dangerous situations may cause emotional and physiological issues. The Soldiers at the Restoration Clinic will be working with Soldiers until the end of their tour in late fall. A replacement unit is expected to arrive to continue this vital work."


Anonymous MT0010 said...

Awesome article piece Kate.

I'm going to forward it to my fiance in Iraq, hopefully it'll help him. Thanks for posting this!

Kick ass in your finals dude!! :)

5/13/2009 08:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The stress clinics over there are ok, but they're only a temporary fix because as long as the GI's are going back overandoverandover again into an impossible, no-win situation, they seem a bit ineffective. But they're better than nothing. That being said, I think most of the stress clinics need to be here in the US.

5/13/2009 05:09:00 PM  

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