Guard Addresses Post Traumatic Stress in Soldiers - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Guard Addresses Post Traumatic Stress in Soldiers

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War changes.

Strategy, tactics, and weapons evolve with changing environments and enemies.

So, the way leaders deal with their soldiers changes too.

And dealing with the changes in those soldiers is a priority for North Dakota's National Guard.

Mike Chaussee talks with some Guardsmen, specifically about how the Guard helps them deal with the stresses of war...

(Begin broadcast script)

Chaplain David Johnson says he meets soldiers returning home as they get off the plane.

His job is to help them start adjusting to life at home.

(Chaplain David Johnson/ ND National Guard) "You experience some things that you never thought you would experience, that you never thought you would have to experience. That you wish you'd never experienced."

The National Guard's approach is proactive.

And it starts on the ground.

(Col. Robert Fode/ ND National Guard) "Before we'd have people slap them in the face and say put your boots on we're going to war.  Today what happens when we have a traumatic event on the ground we have stress teams that are actually there that try to analyze to see where folks are at, and they will give us as leaders an idea that this individual is good, this one isn't, this individual you have to watch...or this individual here we need to take in and do more counseling with, take the weapon away...whatever the case may be."

Those stress teams act quickly. 

Sometimes within minutes.

(Lt. Col. Robert Fugere/ ND National Guard) "I think we're a lot more proactive these days to ensure if we identify somebody that's struggling or somebody comes to us, we can get them to the right resources."

Communication is key.

(Lt. Col. Paul Harron/ ND National Guard) "As a leader it's important that we are open and communicate with our soldiers that we are able to talk.  And we understand that people deal with stress in different ways. And they need to feel comfortable that there won't be a stigma, that there won't be any negative repercussions if they come forward.  It really means that you are a stronger soldier if you've identified that you do have an issue and you actually come forward and address it."

And they do what they can to help soldiers understand that talking about their not a sign of weakness.

(Capt. Chance Schaffner/ ND National Guard) "Soldiers are supposed to have the personification that you're not the weakest link. And by thinking that you have a problem you think you are the weakest link.  Which is not the case, because everybody comes back with some form of it.  It just might not be visible."

According to these men, the best therapy is talking.

Especially, with someone who has shared experiences.

They used the term 'Battle Buddy' a lot.

A battle buddy is a soldier's best friend during deployment.

And the best therapist at home.

(End broadcast script)

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