May 11, 2008
Many military personnel returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been exposed to traumatic events, such as witnessing death or handling human remains, and such experiences may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or other consequences, such as substance abuse. Many returning servicemembers have also been injured by improvised explosive devices, which can result in traumatic brain injury (TBI). The authors of this paper evaluated and developed communication materials for military personnel and their families that address post-deployment stress often triggered by traumatic experiences and TBI. The authors identified existing (as of June 2007) resources for military personnel, their families, and veterans regarding PTSD, TBI, depression, and other related issues and found some important shortfalls: Relatively little of the material addressed seeking treatment, and only 14 percent of resources were considered "exemplary". The authors drafted educational booklets to address these issues, vetted them in 10 focus groups with 51 individuals (military personnel and their spouses), and incorporated feedback from the focus groups into the final booklets. The resulting educational materials may provide a useful resource for military personnel and their families.