By Lt. Col. Anthony Deiss, South Dakota National GuardOctober 23, 2019
RAPID CITY, S.D. -- Some 40 members of the National Guard from around the country trained how to help military colleagues and their families manage traumatic events.
Traumatic Event Management, or TEM, is the official intervention model endorsed by the U.S. Army. The course is designed to train facilitators -- primarily behavioral health providers and unit ministry teams -- to help units exposed to potentially traumatic events.
"The TEM course is an opportunity to train together to further develop and enhance our ability to provide support to individuals and groups who experience potentially traumatizing incidents during combat, peacekeeping, garrison or humanitarian operations," said Lt. Col. Amber Heinert, director of psychological health and resiliency programs for Joint Force Headquarters, SDARNG.
The course trained military behavioral health providers/specialists, unit ministry teams, resiliency program personnel, medics, deputy state surgeons, administrative officers and command teams.
There were 40 participants, including 20 Soldiers from the SDARNG, 15 from the Arizona, Colorado and Virgin Islands National Guard, two Airmen from Ellsworth Air Force Base and three civilian behavioral health providers who support the military.
Topics covered in the course included supporting individuals or groups, making referrals, applying prevention measures and conducting needs assessments after a potentially traumatic event, such as the death of a unit member or civilian mass casualties.
"These are universal skills that will enhance all of our abilities to provide support and stabilization, whether at home or abroad," Heinert said.
This was the first time the course was in South Dakota. It was a joint effort between the Psychological Health Programs Office and the Chaplain Corps.
Students learned intervention tools and techniques, Heinart said, including a unit needs assessment, command consultation and education, triage, stabilization and restoration procedures, psychological first aid and psychological debriefings.
With this knowledge, course participants are better prepared to help manage and transition service members, units and families through traumatic events.
"The intent is to encourage post-traumatic growth, which is an adaptive process whereby individuals exposed to potentially traumatizing events can experience an enhanced sense of hope, a deepened sense of personal strength and resiliency and safeguard future mission effectiveness with enhanced individual, unit, and family well-being," said Heinert.