Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

16635 Military Stress First Aid: Practical and Community Implications

Thursday, January 12, 2012: 4:00 PM
Wilson (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Richard Westphal, PhD, Consultant, Psychological Health Consultants, Springfield, VA
Background and Purpose: Military leaders, service members, families, and healthcare providers endure unique stressors when deployed in response to humanitarian missions, major disasters, or war. The Maritime Operational Stress Control (OSC) doctrine was developed by the Department of the Navy to provide practical and organizational assessment and response to expected stressors of military life. The foundational principles of a color codes stress continuum, core leader actions, and stress first aid have been used to support individuals, communities, military families, and disaster response efforts. The Maritime stress first aid model is an indicated prevention effort for those presenting early signs of stress injury. All professional caregivers who work with Sailors, Marines, and their families must be able to understand and use the Maritime OSC model as a core military culture competency. This presentation will highlight the theoretical foundations and practical applications for assessing and planning interventions for individuals, families, and communities experiencing sources of stress injury of trauma, loss, moral injury, and fatigue. Empirical evidence identified five essential needs that people have following disaster or terrorism events. The stress first aid model uses those five essential needs and the four sources of stress injury to guide assessment and interventions for individuals, families, and communities. Methods: The stress first aid model was used to assess strengths, vulnerabilities, and stress exposure for over 7,000 military personnel deployed Haiti earthquake relief. The post-earthquake assessment will be used as a case example for applying stress first aid principles in a military community. The assessment used a qualitative process of interviewing key informants using the 4x5 COSFA framework at high exposure sites, informant referral to other at risk groups, and iterative analysis to saturation. The exposure frame included the four weeks post-earthquake Results: The COSFA model of stress first aid provides a framework for responding to individuals showing signs of stress injury as well as guiding post event assessment of military communities. This assessment resulted in critical psychological health of the force information for military leaders. Conclusions and Implications: The foundational framework of four sources of stress first aid and essential human needs following disaster is important for anyone who provides individual and community post trauma services. Specific examples will be discussed of how this model provides a framework for understanding military community reactions to the Deep Horizon Oil Spill and U.S. military personnel and family support in Japan following the 2011 tsunami.