A new electronic series of fact sheets on deployment-related concerns of
soldiers and their families is being distributed to civilian psychiatrists and
military physicians as well as other health care professionals.
The Courage to Care health-promotion campaign is produced by an
interdisciplinary team at the Uniformed Services University (USU) Center for
the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS), which is directed by Col. Robert Ursano,
MC, USAF (Ret.).FIG1
Ursano, who chairs the department of psychiatry at USU, told
Psychiatric News, "As the nation's federal medical school, we
have a special relationship with our Department of Defense (DoD) community
that is unique and worldwide. The health of our soldiers, airmen, and
marines—men and women—and their families is our
Ursano and his team of experts at CSTS identify topics for the fact sheets
after consulting with military and hospital commanders, primary care
physicians, and public affairs officers, according to Ursano, who was the
first chair of APA's Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disasters and is
now a corresponding member.
"One of the unique aspects of the health-promotion campaign is its
relevance. Topics are chosen for no other reason than to answer the questions
being asked by service members and their families," Ursano said.
Each fact sheet presents an outline of particular issues that health care
and social service professionals need to understand when dealing with families
with a deployed spouse/parent. A companion fact sheet on the same topic is
attached for professionals to give to soldiers or family members to take
For example, the first fact sheet addressed issues that arise when deployed
soldiers reunite with their spouse and other family members after being apart
for months. "This particular topic was prompted by a request for
information from a spouse of a soldier deployed to Iraq. She wanted to prepare
her family for her husband's return for the holidays in 2003," commented
"When I responded to her concerns, I realized that the military
community as a whole needed more information on what to expect when soldiers
returned home from Iraq, particularly around the holidays," he said.
He proposed that the center, with its expertise in disaster mental health
and trauma research in terrorism and bioterrorism, produce a series of
electronic fact sheets to educate the military community.
In June 2003, Ursano created the Office of Public Education and
Preparedness at CSTS and hired health-promotion and public-education
specialist Nancy Vineburgh to be its director and an assistant professor of
Ursano enlisted Vineburgh to develop the theme for the new health-promotion
campaign and individual fact sheets, edit the content, and design the format
She gave the campaign its name, Courage to Care, which complemented the USU
slogan "caring for those in harm's way," said Ursano.
He also enlisted the expertise of Col. Molly Hall, MC, USAF, associate
professor and assistant chair of psychiatry at USU, to oversee the development
of the educational content of the campaign (Psychiatric News, June
Capt. Derrick Hamaoka, MC, USAF, also a psychiatrist, joined the campaign's
interdisciplinary team about a year ago during his third-year clerkship in the
psychiatry department. His primary roles are to coordinate the campaign and
oversee the distribution of the fact sheets to military and civilian health
care and social-service professionals, Hamaoka told Psychiatric
"The concept of producing attractive, ready-to-use fact sheets that
could be disseminated electronically to health care professionals and
customized if they wished appealed to me," Hamaoka said.
He observed that the military community's response to the reintegration
fact sheet was overwhelming and positive. He has since expanded the
distribution list in response to numerous requests.
For example, one military commander wrote a note to the team saying,"
I can't thank you enough. Your Courage to Care series is the just the
product we were looking for to provide to the Air Force/National Guard. It has
direct, immediate impact on our troops and the current urgent combat mental
health care crisis."
The second fact sheet, which was released last month, addressed a national
concern—the flu. "It guides health care professionals in educating
patients and their communities about good health habits to decrease the risk
of infections," said Ursano.
The third fact sheet will address issues that National Guard and Reserve
members may face when they re-enter the workplace, according to Vineburgh."
These families are not necessarily located near an active military base
so they require special outreach by the DoD, their home communities, and
Additional fact sheets will address the impact of deployment on children
and families, women's health during deployment, and talking about injuries
with spouses and families, according to Ursano.
The Courage to Care fact sheets are posted online at<www.usuhs.mil/psy/courage.html>.▪