Defense Department Opens Psychological Health Center
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2009 Defense Department officials today announced the opening of a new outreach center that will provide servicemembers, veterans and their families a new resource for psychological health problems and traumatic brain injuries.
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury is operating the 24-hour center, which will be open 365 days a year and is staffed by behavioral health consultants and nurses, including some former military psychologists.
“We’re providing 24/7 support to assist callers with questions regarding psychological health and traumatic brain injury,” said Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Loree K. Sutton, director of the Centers of Excellence. “Getting the best possible information and tools, hassle-free, will empower and strengthen warriors and their families to successfully manage what can be confusing and disturbing circumstances.”
The center promotes resilience, recovery, and reintegration of servicemembers facing psychological health and traumatic brain injury issues while working to advance research, education, diagnosis, and treatment of these conditions, Sutton said.
Its staff is equipped to handle not only routine requests for information, but also questions about symptoms a caller may be experiencing. Its staff also can help a caller find appropriate health care resources within the Defense Department or with other federal agencies, she added.
“What we want to make sure is … that we provide the accurate information to allow folks to understand what’s really true,” Sutton said. “If we need to research a question, we’ll do the legwork and quickly reconnect with the caller.”
The outreach center will always be there for members, leaders, and health care providers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, the reserve components and veterans, Sutton said. Family members of servicemembers and veterans can call or e-mail the outreach center staff with questions pertaining to psychological health or traumatic brain injury. The center can be reached by calling 866-966-1020 toll-free, or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This outreach center will be a way where, even at 2 in the morning [and] whether you’re on the home front or downrange, … you’ll have someone at the other end of that line who cares,” Sutton said.