DOD Call Center Links Troubled Troops, Resources

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2010 — Trou­bled troops, vet­er­ans and fam­i­ly mem­bers have a round-the-clock, free resource for locat­ing the help they need to deal with psy­cho­log­i­cal health prob­lems and trau­mat­ic brain injury.

The 24/7 Out­reach Cen­ter is part of the Defense Cen­ters of Excel­lence for Psy­cho­log­i­cal Health and Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury, or DCoE. The cen­ter is always staffed with trained, pro­fes­sion­al health-resource con­sul­tants.

“The DCoE call cen­ter pro­vides spe­cif­ic sub­ject-mat­ter exper­tise on psy­cho­log­i­cal health and trau­mat­ic brain injury,” Loli­ta O’Donnell, DCoE act­ing direc­tor for clear­ing­house, out­reach and advo­ca­cy, said yes­ter­day in a joint inter­view with the Pen­ta­gon Chan­nel and Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice.

“That’s what makes us unique,” she added. “We try to zero in on a nar­row area” — psy­cho­log­i­cal health and trau­mat­ic brain injury — that is a cur­rent con­cern of deployed troops, vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies.

Callers can use the tele­phone, e-mail or online chat to get help for and infor­ma­tion about every­thing from admin­is­tra­tive dis­charge to com­bat stress signs and symp­toms to the lat­est treat­ment options for psy­cho­log­i­cal health con­cerns and brain injury.

“We have reli­able, cred­i­ble resources and tools in psy­cho­log­i­cal health and brain injury,” she added. “We also serve as a clear­ing­house for all these rel­e­vant tools and resources that DOD has pro­duced in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the VA.”

DOD and the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs have part­nered in this effort, along with a nation­al net­work of mil­i­tary and civil­ian agen­cies, com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, advo­ca­cy groups, clin­i­cal experts and aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions.

“We don’t want to turn any­one away, that’s why we estab­lished what we call a ‘warm hand­off trans­fer’ with the VA cri­sis line,” O’Donnell said. “Both of us help­ing our ser­vice­mem­bers who are in cri­sis — we feel like we’re more effec­tive.”

Ser­vice­mem­bers and fam­i­ly mem­bers who call, e-mail or chat don’t have to give their names or per­son­al details.

“Our goal is to be able to con­nect with them at the right time and the right place and when­ev­er they feel like they need to talk to some­body,” O’Donnell added.

As of Sep­tem­ber 1, since its launch in May 2009 the out­reach web­site had received near­ly 130,000 vis­its and more than 900,000 page views.

Fam­i­lies are a spe­cial focus of the pro­gram, she said.

“Fam­i­lies are the con­nect­ing link for all of us because if our fam­i­lies are not sup­port­ed then our ser­vice­mem­bers will prob­a­bly not do well in the job they need to do,” she said.

DCoE works with the Sesame Work­shop, the non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion behind the Sesame Street tele­vi­sion pro­gram, on an ini­tia­tive that uses video to help kids deal with deploy­ments, home­com­ings, changes and grief.

For ser­vice­mem­bers, DCoE has launched the Real War­riors Cam­paign to fight the stig­ma that can be asso­ci­at­ed with seek­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal help and treat­ment.

DCoE also man­ages the inTran­si­tion pro­gram to make sure that ser­vice­mem­bers who receive psy­cho­log­i­cal health care aren’t for­got­ten when mov­ing from one duty sta­tion to anoth­er, or deploy­ing or tran­si­tion­ing from DOD to VA care.

In this pro­gram, O’Donnell said, “coach­es, coun­selors, social work­ers and nurs­es with at least three years of expe­ri­ence con­nect the dots for our ser­vice­mem­bers that are in the process of tran­si­tion.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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