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Taking Care of Our Sailors

The Navy describes resilience as “the capacity for Sailors, families, and commands to withstand, recover, grow, and adapt in the face of  stressors and changing demands.”  Resilience is also about fitness in balance. Our Sailors have to be physically, psychologically, spiritually, financially and emotionally fit. Post Deployment Health Re-Assessments and Operational Stress Control assist Sailors by helping them to maintain that balance.  While it is normal to face some degree of stress every day, when stress outweighs our ability to cope we need to ask for help – whether it is for others or ourselves. 

“Our Sailors make enormous sacrifices to serve their country and to support the Navy’s mission. It is a covenant of leadership that we should in turn give 100 percent of our support when they become wounded, ill, or injured…We would do our Sailors a disservice if we did not ensure they are not healthy and mission ready.” —  Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations


Post-Deployment Health Re-Assessments

Sailors deployed to overseas locations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Haiti and Japan may be exposed to a variety of health threats.  These threats can be physical, such as disease or combat related injuries, or psychological, such as Post-Traumatic Stress.

Therefore, the Department of Defense and the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) have mandated that Sailors returning from certain non-shipboard deployments complete two separate Deployment Health Assessments, to ensure their well-being.

There are two different assessments; the Post-Deployment Health Assessment is required within 30 days after returning and the Post-Deployment Health Re-Assessment must be completed between 90 and 180 days after returning. This helps health professionals find and address concerns that many not be obvious immediately upon return.

Each Sailor’s command is held responsible for making sure they are done.

“As leaders we have to be aware of our Sailors’ issues and their families’ issues, being especially vigilant of deployment related problems,” said Greenert.

Operational Stress Control

Sailors must be able to endure whatever challenges come their way and then recover from any injuries they have sustained. When they can do that, then weve succeeded in giving them the resiliencebuilding tools and support networks they need. Learning from our experiences isnt a new concept. Its how we get better at what we do, but sometimes we dont have the skills, and we cant do it alone, and thats when we lean on our leaders, our shipmates and our family members. ”  Rear Adm. Martha Herb, Deputy, Navy Personnel Command and Director, Personnel Readiness and Community Support

Leaders must create command environments that encourage optimal performance and personal growth.  It is normal for everyone to face some degree of stress every day, but there is a tipping point. When stress outweighs our ability to cope, we need to ask for help – whether it is for others or ourselves.

Building your Unit’s Resilience

The  guiding principles to understanding resilience and implementing stress awareness are:

Predictability: Create a predictable environment for your Sailors – one in which they can prepare for the unknown.
Controllability: Allow Sailors to control situations whenever possible.
Relationships: Encourage healthy supervisor-subordinate and peer-to-peer relationships.
Trust: Trust in yourself, in your shipmates, and in your leadership.
Meaning: Explain your Sailor’s role in the mission.

Strategies for Managing Stress

 Assess the risks associated with the decisions you make as a leader.  You can make a difference in your own life, as well as in the lives of your Sailors and their families.
 By controlling what you can, you may find ways to lessen the impact of a stressful activity or event.
 Take care of yourself physically.  Know the rules, exercise and stay in good physical shape – it reduces stress and sets a good example.
 Eat well; a  balanced diet will keep you operating at your maximum potential.
 Live well below your financial means. Finances are one of the leading stressors to Sailors.  Teaching Sailors ways to live within their means and plan for the future can relieve these stressors.

OSC Facts & Figures

– Since Jan. 1, more than 1,500 chiefs and officers have completed the Navy OSC Leader course that teaches practical skills to help leaders recognize and mitigate stress problems before they become stress injuries.
– More than 500 new Suicide Prevention Coordinators have been trained via webinar since November 2011.
– OSC has two mobile training teams that bring OSC training directly to command wardrooms and the chief’s mess.  Contact Scotty Jackson, (619) 556-7215, ernest.s.jackson.ctr@navy.mil, to schedule training.



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