By Mr. Paul Boyce (FORSCOM)July 17, 2007
The Army today launched a "chain teaching" program as part of an aggressive campaign to educate more than 1 million Active, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers worldwide within the next 90 days about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
"Chain teaching" is a technique where leaders train their immediate subordinate leaders in small groups, who then in turn train those whom they lead, who in turn train the next level of leadership and so on, further down the line, until all Soldiers have received the required training. Key elements of this technique are the mastery of the information by leadership at all levels because they must teach the subject, plus the significance of the issue is made prominent by the teaching coming directly from unit's own leadership.
All Soldiers in combat suffer stress, but most recover quickly. Those whose symptoms persist may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is a condition that often follows a terrifying physical or emotional event, causing the person who survived the event to have persistent, frightening thoughts and memories, or flashbacks, of the ordeal. People with PTSD often feel chronically, emotionally numb.
Mild TBI is a physical injury to the head due to any circumstance. The enemy's weapons of choice include improvised explosive devices, mines and other explosives and their cumulative blast effects may cause behavioral health symptoms such as sleep problems, memory problems, confusion and irritability. Many Soldiers experiencing these temporary symptoms may not know why they have them.
As Soldiers continue to deploy on multiple combat tours, brain injuries and combat-induced psychological stress are the primary health care concerns for Army leadership. The recognition, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of PTSD and TBI are essential steps needed to care for Soldiers and their Families.
This chain teach program also will help erase the perceived stigma that discourages soldiers from seeking treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns.
"Combat is inherently brutal and difficult, and it impacts humans in different ways," said Gen. George Casey Jr., chief of staff of the Army. "We have made significant improvements in the identification and treatment of PTSD and mild TBI, but we must aggressively work research, prevention and treatment of these injuries and, most importantly, encourage Soldiers and their Families to seek treatment."
This aggressive chain teaching program will augment behavioral health assessment tools and measures already in place, and emphasize the Army's commitment to providing the best health care possible. Senior Army leaders also hope to diminish the stigma attached to mental health treatment and counseling.
"We have more than 144,000 Soldiers in combat today," said Secretary of the Army Pete Geren. "And more than 750,000 have deployed to and from the combat zones in Central Command. Our Nation and our Army owe these Soldiers and their Families nothing less than our total support. The Army is committed to ensuring all returning Soldiers receive the behavioral health care they need and deserve. True to our ethos, we will never leave a fallen comrade."
Information regarding the chain teaching program and other behavioral health programs is located at http://www.behavioralhealth.army.mil. The Army Medical Department's site provides resources and mental well-being information for Soldiers and their family members.
Media seeking more information on the chain teaching program should contact Army Public Affairs (703) 697-2564.