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332 AEW COMBAT LIFE SKILLS TOOLKIT. In combat or disaster situations, you may see, hear, smell, and perhaps have to handle badly injured and dead people. There may be a few or very many, depending on the extent of the tragedy. They may be men and women of all ages.

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332 AEW COMBAT LIFE SKILLS TOOLKIT


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332 aew tip how to face the injured and dead

In combat or disaster situations, you may see, hear, smell, and perhaps have to handle badly injured and dead people. There may be a few or very many, depending on the extent of the tragedy. They may be men and women of all ages.

You may be struck with combinations of pity, horror, repulsion, and anger at the senselessness or malice of the event. You may feel guilty for failing to prevent it, for surviving it, or for not helping enough. These reactions are normal, a part of being human. You may blame yourself or the U.S.A. It hurts most when a victim reminds you of someone you love, or yourself.

Keep in mind that these feelings are honorable, and confirm your humanity. At times, however, you may feel emotionally numb, and may use “graveyard humor” to make the suffering and deaths seem less terrible. Whatever you feel, remember that the mission must continue.

If you are in this situation, here are lessons learned by people who faced such horrible experiences. These tips can help you do the mission and live with the memories without being haunted by them.

1. Remember the larger purpose of what you must do. You are showing care,

giving hope, and preventing disease for the living. You are recovering the

bodies for registrations and respectful burial.

2. Limit exposure to the stimuli: don’t sightsee; use screens, poncho curtains,

partitions, covers, body bags, and barriers to keep away anyone who does not

need to see.

3. Wear gloves and disposable uniforms, if available.

4. Mask odors with disinfectants, deodorants, and air-fresheners. Save perfumes

or aftershaves for afterwards. Don’t be surprised when odors trigger

memories.

5. Be compassionate, but AVOID FOCUSING on any individual victims, especially

those you most identify with. Don’t focus on personal effects.

6. Have people who did NOT search the body examine any materials collected for

identification of the body or intelligence.

7. Remind yourself the body is not "the person", just the remains.

332 AEW TIP – HOW TO FACE THE INJURED AND DEAD

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8. Keep humor alive, even "graveyard humor" with buddies who understand it,

but don't get too gross or too personal (e.g. no picking on each other).

9. Don't desecrate or steal from the victims--those are UCMJ crimes.

10. Say silent prayers; ask unit or local ministers to conduct memorial services.

11. Schedule frequent breaks; maintain hygiene, drink plenty of fluids, and eat

good food. Command should arrange facilities for washing hands and face,

and later showers and fresh clothes.

12. Have your team get together for mutual support and encouragement.

Acknowledge horrible aspects, but don't dwell on these memories of details.

13. Help buddies or subordinates in distress by being a good listener. Don't jump

in with "off the shelf" answers. Don't mistake feelings as weakness. Say they

are normal and honorable. Remind them that the mission must go on, and the

team needs everyone.

14. If forewarned of the mission, prepare yourself for what you will see and do;

take the supplies and equipment mentioned above.

15. Afterwards, don't feel guilty about having distanced yourself mentally from

the suffering or tragic deaths of individuals.

16. Don't be disheartened by horrible dreams, feeling tense, or intrusive

memories. Those are normal, and it is better to have them now than to

suppress them. Don't keep them hidden. Share them with your buddies, and

keep that positive humor alive.

17. 1-3 days after exposure, participate in a critical event debriefing with trained

people from your supporting Chapel staff and/or life skills support/combat

stress control team.

These techniques and coping skills cannot make a horrible and tragic event acceptable or easy, but they can help you and your teammates better cope with the stress in order to complete the mission. Be proud of what you have done, and use these lessons learned to take care of yourself, your buddies, and your family when you get home.

coping with deployment separation

Tips for both the deployed parent and the stay-at-home parent (or designated caregiver)

  • Establish and maintain supports that help the family to cope.
  • Plan for family stress relievers like fun outings and get-togethers.
  • Plan opportunities for the at-home parent to get away from the children
  • revive emotionally and physically.
  • Encourage family members to share feelings and give assurances.
  • Honestly discuss the Airman's deployment. Share information about
  • Airman's work and what he/she is doing for our country. Answer
  • questions openly and honestly, using words your children understand.
  • Provide a method for your child to count the days the parent has been
  • deployed.
  • Maintain a structured and safe emotional and physical environment.
  • Mention the deployed parent in everyday conversations.
  • Help your children sort out their feelings about what they hear and see in
  • news reports. Find out what they know and understand, and talk with
  • them about their feelings.
  • Follow your child's lead. Give a little information at a time and see how
  • your child responds before deciding what to do next.
  • Provide your child with ways to communicate to the deployed parent, e.g.
  • letter writing, e-mail access, sending pictures or tapes. Make it creative
  • and fun.
  • Maintain family routines and traditions at home and long distance.
  • Involve your child in outside activities; communicate with school.

COPING WITH DEPLOYMENT SEPARATION

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Tips for couples (e.g. spouse, parent, roommate, close friend)

  • Anticipate arguments prior to deployment. Arguments reflect the distress
  • of pending separations. Try not to take them too seriously.
  • Prior to deployment, discuss expectations for managing finances,
  • care-giving concerns (e.g. children, sick relatives, pets), personal
  • conduct.
  • Expect changes in departure and return dates.
  • Avoid listening to or spreading rumors as they usually cause distress and
  • harm to someone.
  • Accept growth and change in all family members and relationships.
  • Reserve serious disagreements for face-to-face discussion.
  • Put existing, unresolved relationship issues on hold until homecoming.
  • Communicate regularly and creatively. Always end on positive notes.
  • Keep other important people informed and give mutual support.
coping with stress in contingency operations

The day-to-day stress that comes with stability and support operations (SASOs) can, at worst, be as bad as that of major combat. The danger may be as high, the mission less clear, some civilians hostile, and rules of engagement are stricter. It is hard to recognize threats. Concrete progress is difficult to see. There is boredom, no privacy, restricted movement, and separation from home with poor communications. Under these conditions, anyone can begin to show signs of distress, and it is important to know how you can help yourself and your buddy.

  • Learn effective relaxation techniques:
  • workout or running
  • play cards or sports
  • talk with friends
  • write a letter or diary
  • read a book
  • take slow, deep breaths
  • imagine a favorite place
  • Relaxation techniques can help you refocus in action, recharge after grueling or boring work, and can help you get to sleep. Request training on relaxation techniques from Life Skills Support or combat stress control teams and unit Chapel Staff in your area.
  • What to do for yourself:
  • Remind yourself that the way you are feeling is normal given the situation
  • that you are in;
  • Make certain that you get enough sleep, food, water, and exercise - if you
  • are physically stressed, your ability to deal with the day-to-day SASO
  • stressors is reduced;
  • Focus on the mission at hand - break down objectives into smaller tasks
  • and reward yourself with rest breaks after each task is accomplished;
  • Stay tied in with buddies in your unit;
  • Maintain contact with friends and family at home whenever you can - if
  • something at home is bothering you, talk about it with your buddies, your
  • leaders, or anyone else you trust;
  • If things start to feel out of control, get with your unit first sergeant,
  • chaplain, Life Skills Support staff, or commander ASAP.

Coping with Stress in Contingency Operations

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What to do for your buddies:

  • Know the members of your team and welcome newcomers when they
  • arrive--help them learn skills they need;
  • Be on the lookout for sudden changes in how your buddies act - if you
  • see such a change, ask them about it;
  • Include your buddies and new guys in opportunities to relax;
  • Offer encouragement and recognition when your buddies do something
  • well;
  • If you're concerned for your buddies, talk to them about how they're
  • doing;
  • If you think that your buddy may be having a really hard time and won't
  • talk to you, get with your supervisor/First Sergeant and let them know
  • about your concern.
  • What to do for your subordinates:
  • Keep your team informed of new developments as they come up but be
  • careful not to pass on rumors - say you don't know and will tell them when
  • you do.
  • Be on the lookout for changes in behavior or performance and act to
  • address issues before they become problems;
  • Organize team events to help your Airmen relax and have some fun; give
  • them some private time when you can.
  • Check in with team members on how they're handling the deployment and
  • how things are going back home;
  • Assure they get a fair share of MWR communication.
  • Talk with any Airmen about whom you are concerned and listen to them;
  • Conduct sensing sessions as frequently as possible and make sure
  • Airmen's feelings are expressed and heard;
  • Refer Airmen to unit chaplains, Life Skills Support, or combat stress
  • control (CSC) team assets for help if they need it.
332 aew tips helping an airman in distress leaders trianing guide

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, any Airman can run into rough times. It could be any combinations of:

  • Seeing destroyed homes, dead bodies, human remains;
  • Hostile reactions from civilians;
  • Being ambushed, receiving small arms fire, improvised explosive
  • devices;
  • Knowing or seeing someone seriously injured or killed; having close
  • calls;
  • Long deployments; lack of privacy and personal space;
  • Separation from family, difficult communication home.
  • All of us can sometimes come to feel badly. If you see a fellow Airman who is upset, fuming or brooding alone, you can help them through a painful and sometimes risky time. Emotionally distracted Airmen can endanger the mission, the unit and themselves. Often, just talking to a friend (or leader) who listens, tries to understand, and praises their strengths, is all that people need to find their own answers. The following can be suggested to Airmen in order to help a buddy:
  • 1. Be a good friend. For example, say, "Something seems to be bothering
  • you. How can I help? I can listen without being upset."
  • 2. Listen attentively and encourage him or her to continue telling you
  • what's wrong. Stay calm and objective. Don't criticize or argue with
  • the Airman's thoughts and feelings, but listen and allow silent time for
  • him/her to find words.
  • 3. Acknowledge the Airman's grievances against others, but don't
  • amplify them by agreeing with them too strongly.
  • 4. Ask questions to help you understand the problem and the feelings. If
  • the talking stalls, try to summarize what has been said and ask if you
  • have it right.
  • 5. Delay offering different perspectives or practical advice until you
  • believe your Airman knows that you really know the situation, and
  • understand why he/she is upset.

332 AEW TIPS - HELPING AN AIRMAN IN DISTRESSLEADERS TRIANING GUIDE

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6. Plant the seeds of new ideas. Don't drive them in with a hammer.

  • 7.Praise the Airman for the work he/she has been doing under such difficult circumstances, and for talking with
  • Sometimes the problems are too big to resolve after one talk, or without additional, outside help. Remember the Air Force deploys in OIF additional help for Airmen with such problems. Beyond yourself and other NCO and officer leaders, there are:
  • Base Chapel Staff, hospitals, and providing area support in Corps area
  • and Kuwait.
  • The primary medical providers in medical facilities should know where
  • these helpers are and how to contact them, as well as being helpers, too.
  • Life Skills Support Officers, NCOs, and Airmen.
  • If the Airman seems preoccupied with death, hint at having thoughts of suicide, or makes threats toward others, remember your Suicide Prevention Training!
  • Say something like, "I can see that you feel distressed." "Have you
  • thought of hurting yourself or someone else?" or, "Do you wish you were
  • dead?"
  • Then "Have you thought of how you could kill yourself?" (or whomever);
  • Don't act shocked or alarmed! Encourage the Airman to talk using the
  • techniques on this card.
  • If the Airman is armed, say, "Let me unload your weapon and keep it
  • safe for you while we talk."
  • After the Airman has talked as much as he wants, say, "I need to get
  • you help for this. There are people near who can help you."
  • Don't leave this person alone. Secure any weapons. Take the Airman
  • immediately to your chain of command or to medical care.
  • A SUICIDAL PERSON NEEDS IMMEDIATE ATTENTION.
332 aew tips helping an airman buddy in distress

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, any Airman can run into rough times. Examples of hard thins include: seeing destroyed homes; dead bodies; hostile reactions from civilians; being ambushed; small arms fire; IEDs; knowing someone seriously injured or killed; long deployments; lack of privacy and personal space; separation from family; difficult communication back home.

The fact is that all of us can sometimes come to feel badly. If you see a fellow Airman who is upset, fuming or brooding alone, you can help them through a painful and sometimes risky time. Emotionally distracted Airmen can endanger the mission, the unit and themselves. Often, just talking to a friend (or leader) who listens, tries to understand, and praises their strengths, is all that people need to find their own answers. The following can be suggested to Airmen in order to help a buddy:

1. Be a good friend. For example, say, "Something seems to be bothering

you. How can I help? I can listen without being upset."

2. Listen and encourage your buddy to talk about what is bothering him or

her. Stay calm and objective.

3. Acknowledge the Airman's grievances against others, but don't

amplify them by agreeing with them too strongly.

4. Ask questions to help you understand the problem and the feelings. If

the talking stalls, try to summarize what has been said and ask if you

have it right.

5. Delay offering different perspectives or practical advice until you

believe your Airman knows that you really know the situation, and

understand why he/she is upset.

6. Plant the seeds of new ideas. Don't drive them in with a hammer.

7. Praise the Airman for the work he/she has been doing under such

difficult circumstances, and for talking with you.

332 AEW TIPS - HELPING AN AIRMAN/BUDDY IN DISTRESS

slide11

Sometimes the problems are too big to resolve after one talk, or without additional, outside help. Remember the Air Force deploys in OIF additional help for Airmen with such problems. Beyond yourself and other NCO and officer leaders, there are:

  • Base Chapel Staff, hospitals, and providing area support in Corps area
  • and Kuwait.
  • The primary medical providers in medical facilities should know where
  • these helpers are and how to contact them, as well as being helpers, too.
  • Life Skills Support Officers, NCOs, and Airmen.
  • If the Airman seems preoccupied with death, hint at having thoughts of suicide, or makes threats toward others, remember your Suicide Prevention Training!
  • Say something like, "I can see that you feel distressed." "Have you
  • thought of hurting yourself or someone else?" or, "Do you wish you were
  • dead?"
  • Then "Have you thought of how you could kill yourself?" (or whomever);
  • Don't act shocked or alarmed! Encourage the Airman to talk using the
  • techniques on this card.
  • If the Airman is armed, say, "Let me unload your weapon and keep it
  • safe for you while we talk."
  • After the Airman has talked as much as he wants, say, "I need to get
  • you help for this. There are people near who can help you."
  • Don't leave this person alone. Secure any weapons. Take the Airman
  • immediately to your chain of command or to medical care.
  • A SUICIDAL PERSON NEEDS IMMEDIATE ATTENTION.