ON THE INTERSECTION OF MILITARY SERVICE AND MENTAL HEALTH

11/3/15 | Embassy of Canada | "Fireside Chat" with Joe Klein (political columnist, TIME) & Maura Sullivan (Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs) | part of Give an Hour's Celebration of Service | disclaimer: had to paraphrase some of this
  1. Background: Give an Hour is a wonderful organization, founded by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, that does 2 things:
    1. meeting the mental health needs of veterans and their families by creating a network of counselors who regularly "give an hour" of free counseling to those in need 2. working to reduce stigma associated with mental health
  2. "I dropped the 'D' in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because PTS is a normal reaction to abnormal experiences" - Joe Klein
  3. "PTS isn't just about what [people in military service] experience, it's about losing their community, not having that here when they get back" - Joe Klein
  4. They get back and the communities they return to don't really value service, engagement, they way the military does. - Joe Klein
  5. "We've lost habits of citizenship and community [as civilians] but from what I have seen, troops still have them...can't have democracy without citizenship and at the heart of that is community" - Joe Klein
  6. Veterans find strength and purpose again by serving civilian communities. - Joe Klein
    One org he points out that does this: Team Red, White and Blue.
  7. "Sometimes it's the family members left behind that are affected just as much as the person being deployed. I know in my experience, my deployment was in some ways harder on my parents than me" - Maura Sullivan
  8. 87% of veterans feel military has prepared them to be leaders in civilian workplace and community...and 97% feel pride in accomplishments during their service.* But most also are concerned that civilians don't understand that or "get" their value to civilian workplace. - Maura Sullivan
    *from Blue Star Families 2015 Military Family Lifestyle Survey
  9. In response to Barbara's question about how mental health is discussed in relation to military: "stigma is the problem" - Maura Sullivan
  10. Mental health should be on par with physical health - Maura Sullivan
    In terms of how we talk about it and how we treat it
  11. Stigma still a huge barrier to seeking healthcare among military, though progress being made.
  12. In response to question about how we help cultural change happen: 1 person having courage to say they are getting help for mental health condition opens a pathway for others. - Maura Sullivan
  13. Must extend the ethic of service beyond the military; must be a civilian culture ethic and priority. - Joe Klein
  14. Special Ops Command's Gen. Joseph Votel had made public remarks/been frank about personally seeking help. Has said that not only is it OK for military to seek help, it is EXPECTED.
    Huge, promising shift in military mental health culture
  15. Citizenship (in a democracy) means taking responsibility, and one huge way we do that is by serving our communities. - Joe Klein