Helping a soldier-Buddy in distress

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Describing post traumatic stress in combat veterans

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Misdiagnosis of PTSD as another preexisting disorder is becoming used by DoD doctors to discharge military personal with no outside benefits

The USA is experiencing an upword cases of Suicide

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In Operation Iraqi Freedom, any Soldier can run into rough times. Examples of hard things include: seeing destroyed homes; dead bodies; hostile reactions from civilians; being ambushed; small arms fire; IEDs; knowing someone seriously injured or killed; long deployment; lack of privacy and personal space; separation from family; difficult communication back home.

The fact is that all of us can sometimes feel down, hurt, or angry. If you see a buddy upset, fuming or brooding alone, you can help your buddy through what may be for him a painful and sometimes risky time. Emotionally distracted soldiers can endanger the mission, the unit, and themselves. Often, just talking, listening, and focusing on their strengths, is all that people need to find their own answers. The following things you can say and do:

  1. Be a good friend. For example, say, “Something seems to be bothering you. How can I help? I can listen without being upset.”
  2. Listen and encourage your buddy to talk about what is bothering him or her. Stay calm and objective.
  3. Don't criticize or argue with the Soldier’s ideas and feelings. Encourage your buddy to continue tell you what’s wrong. Allow time for your buddy to find words.
  4. Acknowledge your buddy's grievances against others, but don't make it worse by agreeing too strongly.
  5. Ask questions to understand the problem and the feelings. If the talking stalls, summarize what has been said and ask if you have it right.
  6. Don't give a lot of advice. It is okay to plant the seeds of new ideas but don't drive them in with a hammer. Remember you don’t need to have all the answers for the Soldier’s problems.
  7. Praise your buddy's work he/she has been doing under such difficult circumstances, and for talking with you.

Sometimes the problems are too big to resolve after one talk or help. In OIF, the Army has fielded additional helpers for Soldiers with such problems. Beyond the immediate sergeant and officer leaders, you can encourage the Soldier to go and talk about problems with the following:
  • Unit Medic
  • A Chaplain or chaplain assistant
  • BN Aid Station or medical companies’ medical care providers. These and the Chaplain should know where the Mental Health helpers are and how to contact them, as well as being helpers, too.
  • Mental Health officers, NCOs, and Specialists at the medical companies or in Combat Stress Control teams in your area.
  • If your buddy gives any hints or clues of thinking about suicide, or seriously harming or killing someone else, remember your Suicide Prevention Training!
  • Ask your buddy questions that will give you a better idea of what he/she is thinking, such as:
  • “I see how distressed you are. Are you thinking about hurting yourself or someone else?”
  • “Do you wish you were dead?”
  • “Have you thought of how you would kill yourself?”
  • Don’t act shocked or alarmed. Encourage your buddy to talk by using the techniques on this card.
  • If your buddy is armed, say, “Let me unload your weapon and keep it safe for you while we talk.”
  • After your buddy has talked as much as he or she wants, say, “I need to get you help for this. People here can help you.”
  • Don’t leave your buddy alone! Secure any weapons. Take your buddy immediately to your chain of command or to medical care!
  • A suicidal person needs immediate attention by helpers.
For more information access: Army Onesource

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