Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SFAC Blogger's Roundtable 11/12/08

After a few months of trying, I was finally able to attend a Blogger's Roundtable last week!
Since November is Warrior Care Month, the Roundtables in November have focused on the medical research and care being given to our wounded warriors and their families. Last week's Roundtable featured MG John Macdonald of the US Army Installation Management and Family MWR Command, and Delores Johnson, of the Soldier Family Assistance Centers (SFAC).

SFAC's are a unique service that works with Soldiers in Warrior Transition Units. Warrior Transition Units are comprised of wounded Soldiers in transition between hospital care and their next step. Sometimes that next step is their old unit, or perhaps a new unit, or military discharge. No matter what their next step is, the SFAC is there to guide the Soldier and their family through the process. Should a Soldier decide to leave the military, similar services are provided by the VA, but at that point, the SFAC steps out of the process.

The commanders, first sergeants and platoon leaders in the WTU's are so familiar with the assistance offered by the SFAC's, they include introducing new WT's to the local SFAC representatives. They recognize the value offered by the SFAC and want to encourage their Soldiers to use the SFAC's. To me, this is the best endorsement SFAC's could possibly receive.

The SFAC's offer specialized family and soldier care during the transition and healing process. They help family members get ID's, housing, schools and medical care established, allowing the Soldier to really focus on their recovery instead of worrying about basic household issues. SFAC's also work close with the local VA, Red Cross, and other community providers of military assistance. The SFAC serves as a one-stop-shop for assistance, eliminating the runaround that used to exist.

In addition to the coordination of family care, SFAC's also have some cutting edge psychological recovery therapy services. One service shows disabled veterans how to participate in sports like golf, swimming, and even hunting, through modification. MG Macdonald said that they have a blind vet in Texas who has taken down big game such as bears through modified hunting techniques. How cool is that? Who would have thought that a blind man could fire a gun accurately enough to kill a BEAR?

The most intriguing project is Warrior Adventure Quest. Warrior Adventure Quest creates fun, high adrenaline situations through the use of activities like rock climbing, or sky diving, or whitewater rafting, and then they apply battlemind to bring them down off of the rush. MG Macdonald described it this way:
"When a youngster gets back up into that adrenaline rush that he or she was in before and then, with using battlemind and trained platoon leaders and platoon sergeants, they then talk them down- how they felt before, how they felt when that rush of adrenaline like they did downrange, because that's really what the problem is. They're still looking for that rush of adrenaline. And their brain and their body have not adjusted from being back downrange."

Considering the high number of Soldiers suffering from PTSD, I find this project particularly exciting. It's stress management on steroids, which is exactly what our Soldiers need to deal with the after effects of battle.

The Army is learning that healing and reducing stress by providing a personal guide through the system is more than just "nice"...it's necessary.


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