9/11 stress program now offered to Lejeune's warriors

12 Mar 2008 | Cpl. Ryan M. Blaich

Camp Lejeune has been selected as the pilot location for a study relating to coping with combat and deployment stress. The study is looking for Marines and sailors who have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan within the past 12 months and have experienced any factors relating to moderate levels of stress.

 The DE-Stress Study Program, conducted by RTI International, was originally designed for and tested with personnel dealing with the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon.

 Navy Capt. Richard Welton, the Force Surgeon for II Marine Expeditionary Force, said this study could not only benefit Marines who have been a part of direct combat operations, but anyone who experienced some sort of stress while deployed.

 “The mere act of deployment adds to the stress of the family, adds to the stress of the Marine and sailor forward, and creates a problem of stress that doesn’t require exposure to significant combat operations,” said Welton. “Two-thirds to three-quarters of stress in our Marines and sailors is caused by family and life issues back home.”

 Military leaders are hoping this study will provide them with new tools to help Marine and Navy personnel cope with stress experienced while deployed to a combat zone. The program needs 360 Marines and sailors to participate in the six-week study.

 “The goal is to enroll 360 Marines or sailors who have basically experienced moderate levels of combat stress or (post traumatic stress disorder). They don’t have to be diagnosed with that, but if they think they’ve had moderate levels of stress, we can put them through the screening process and see if they meet the criteria,” said Mike Michener, Camp Lejeune’s DE-Stress coordinator.

 If eligible, service members will be randomly placed into one of two groups; immediate group, who will start the study as soon as possible; or the delayed group, which will wait three months before they begin the program. This will test effects of stress levels against recovery time after deployment, Welton said.

 The program is at the convenience of the participant by logging onto a secured Internet site from the privacy of their home. According to RTI International, the study is 100 percent voluntary and strictly confidential.

 Throughout the six-week course, Michener said Marines and sailors will be occasionally asked to complete questionnaires via the Web site. This information will be combined with other data collected from service members and no one outside the research team will see any of the information.

 Aside from being a part of a cutting-edge study, those who participate will be given $10 for each questionnaire completed and $25 at the end of the program, according RTI International.

 RTI International, located in nearby Research Triangle Park, N.C., is one of the world’s leading research institutes, according to their Web site,www.rti.org. They state they are dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice.

 The ultimate goal of the DE-Stress Study Program is to ensure each Marine and sailor suffering from stress is a healthier, better prepared and more resilient service member, stated RTI International.

 This study is endorsed by the Combat/Operational Stress Control Program, Headquarters Marine Corps.

 For more information, please contact Camp Lejeune’s DE-Stress coordinator, Mike Michener, by phone at (910) 320-3480, via email atmmichener@rti.org, or by visiting his offices at the Mental Health Department at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital (Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), the 2nd Marine Logistics Group Chaplain’s office (Wednesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and the 2nd Marine Division’s Psychiatry office (Monday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Mr. Michener is also available by appointments. Brochures are located throughout Camp Lejeune, including the Deployment Health Center, Community Counseling Center and Family Readiness Center. Service and family members can also ask any health-related personnel about the program.