NIH, DoD and VA Holds Conference Examining Impact of Military Service on Families and Caregivers
The Second Annual Trauma Spectrum Disorders Conference: A Scientific Conference on the Impact of Military Service on Families and Caregivers has focused on the impact of trauma spectrum disorders on military and veteran families and caregivers across deployment, homecoming, and reintegration.
Balintfy: The term, trauma spectrum disorders, refers to any injury or illness that occurs as a result of combat or an unexpected traumatic event, and covers a broad range of psychological health and traumatic brain injury issues.
Batten: When we talk about trauma spectrum disorders, itís an umbrella term that we use to talk about any of the things that can impact somebody after being exposed to a potentially traumatic event.
Balintfy: Dr. Sonja Batten is deputy director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. She participated in the Second Annual Trauma Spectrum Disorders Conference: A Scientific Conference on the Impact of Military Service on Families and Caregivers.
Batten: Weíre also interested in other outcomes like depression, substance abuse, and also how deployment can affect family functioning, relationship functioning, how it affects childrenís functioning, those sorts of things that may not actually qualify as a disorder but that certainly are of high relevance to individuals.
Balintfy: Experts at the conference discussed the needs of families and caregivers in support of military and veterans with trauma spectrum disorders. They also covered factors related to family functioning and reintegration, as well as effective approaches that facilitate treatment of trauma disorders and services to families and caregivers. Dr. Joel Kupersmith, at the Veterans Health Administration emphasizes the importance of caregivers.
Kupersmith: We have to think of the caregivers as being the primary people here. We as physicians and other healthcare professionals, are really the backup for them. And whatever we offer, whether its empathy or surgery or technology, or treatments, we are the backup.
Maholmes: Our goal was not to just present research for researchís sake.
Balintfy: Dr. Valerie Maholmes is from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She adds that the conference gave some clear and specific directions for how to bridge research and practice, including what information has explicit implications for policy development.
Maholmes: We want people to walk away with this, knowing the characteristics of childrenís development, for example, and how these family situations might affect the children and what they can do about it, where they can go to get help, where they can go to get resources.
Balintfy: Batten adds that itís appropriate that agencies like NIH, the VA and Defense Centers of Excellence partner for a conference like this.
Batten: Because this really isnít something thatís only relevant if youíre in the military or if youíre in a veteran population. It really is important for community mental health, for community functioning, and we know that America is really supporting the troops. And what weíre hoping to do is by identifying the ways that stressors can impact our service members and their families, both positively and negatively, that this has implications for Americaís public health as well.
Balintfy: For details on the conference, visit www.nih.gov. This is Joe Balintfy, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Joe Balintfy
Sound Bite: Dr. Sonja Batten, Dr. Joel Kupersmith, Dr. Valerie Maholmes
Topic: trauma spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, conference