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TSR program helps prepare Airmen for traumatic events

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- One third of all wartime casualties throughout history have been combat stress. Emphasis has always been directed towards physical and technical preparedness but never on psychological preparation. Increases in military operations, other than war, have elevated exposure to trauma and critical incidents. An accumulation of stress can burden members. Consequently, psychological preparation has been propelled to the forefront of military awareness.

The Air Force recognized the need for psychological preparedness; and, in March 2006, Air Force Instruction 44-153, Traumatic Stress Response, was released. The TSR program replaced the previous disaster intervention guidance known as Critical Incident Stress Management.

The TSR program is a commander-driven program. In other words, it is initiated by a commander as a result of a tragedy occurring to a squadron, a group or a flight. Based upon the commander's needs for his or her troops, the TSR team may be activated upon the commander's consultation with the TSR team chief.

The TSR team is a multi-disciplinary team that is composed of mental health providers, chaplains and staff from the Airman and Family Readiness Center. Different from CISM, TSR teams can meet both group and individual needs by offering briefings and individual counseling. The team is available to help prepare servicemembers and civilians for what they may face before dealing with a traumatic event such as the aftermath of an airplane crash or motor vehicle accident, clean up of a natural disaster site or coping with what they witness after the fact.

The TSR team has three main goals:

· Serve as trauma response consultants to unit leaders
· Prepare personnel likely to be exposed to potentially traumatic events
· Provide screening, education, psychological first aid and referral for those exposed to potentially traumatic events

For the individuals and units likely to experience potentially traumatic events, the TSR team provides pre-exposure preparation. These services focus on increasing awareness of effective approaches to trauma stress management, promoting resiliency and normalizing emotions.

For the individuals and units exposed to potentially traumatic stress, the TSR team provides psychological first aid, rescue and recovery environmental observations, outreach and information referrals, technical assistance, consultation and training, foster resilience and recovery and triage and treatment.

Most importantly, for many troops afraid of the stigma associated with mental health care, AFI 44-153 allows four visits with any member of the TSR team for any personnel exposed to a traumatic incident without requiring documentation in medical records. These meetings are for education and consultation with the goal of encouraging resiliency and recovery, not for medical assessment and treatment.

Goodfellow's Traumatic Stress Response program is maintained by the Mental Health Clinic. For more information contact Capt. Ericka Jenifer at (325)654-3122.