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Posted May 6, 2014
Jamie Anderson and Alan Peterson
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Building Strong, Resilient Warriors
Alan Peterson, PhD, Director, STRONG STAR Consortium

Alan Peterson, Ph.D. I am extremely proud of all of the outstanding research that the STRONG STAR Consortium has accomplished at Fort Hood, Texas, to help build strong and resilient warriors. However, I have never been more proud of the STRONG STAR staff than when I witnessed their selfless dedication to support the families and friends of the shooting victims at Fort Hood in the aftermath of the tragic event on 2 April 2014. STRONG STAR (South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resiliency) was initially funded in 2008 by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program. STRONG STAR's overall goal is to develop and evaluate the most effective approaches for the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder in active duty military personnel and recently discharged veterans. Under the leadership of Dr. Elisa Borah, Director of Research at Fort Hood, the STRONG STAR Fort Hood site has grown over the past 6 years to include approximately 30 research staff in support of 10 ongoing research studies. Jamie Anderson is a military spouse, Family Readiness Group Leader, and project coordinator for our Comparing Internet and In-Person Brief Cognitive Behavioral Therapy of Insomnia study at Fort Hood (Principal Investigator: Daniel Taylor, PhD, University of North Texas). Jamie played a major role in organizing efforts to support the family and friends of the shooting victims. I am incredibly proud of the voluntary efforts of our STRONG STAR staff to support our combat warriors. A first-hand account of Jamie's story is provided below.

It's All About the Soldiers
Jamie Anderson, STRONG STAR Project Coordinator at Fort Hood

Jamie Anderson In my volunteer position as the Family Readiness Group (FRG) Leader for the 85th Medical Detachment (MED DET) at Fort Hood, my primary role is to provide support to my Soldiers and their families by educating them about local resources, holding informational meetings, and advocating for the needs of our Soldiers and families to the unit and installation leadership. I seek out and enlist the support of other family members and Soldiers not only to promote accessibility to resources and shared knowledge, but also to encourage camaraderie and cohesion between Soldiers, family members, and command leadership within our detachment.

Over the past two years, the individuals I serve in this position have become my family. My husband, a Soldier in this detachment, has deployed twice with the 85th MED DET. In support of these deployments, our FRG has sent each of our Soldiers multiple care packages and encouraging notes to let them know we support them and to keep morale high while they are so far away. But what happens once they come home?

The 85th MED DET falls under the 1st Medical Brigade, which was rocked by the April 2nd shooting on Fort Hood. In the hours following the shooting, we learned that we had lost a Soldier and that multiple other Soldiers from within our brigade were hospitalized and in critical condition. In the initial aftermath of this tragedy, my first emotion was shock followed immediately by a passionate need to help in any way possible. Once the command was able to identify the needs of our Soldiers and families, they reached out to me for assistance.

One of the biggest needs identified was the provision of meals for family members staying with their wounded Soldiers in the hospital. With the weekend upon me, I campaigned for support from local military families and off-post restaurants, and, together, we provided 121 meals.

The following Monday, three other volunteers helped me set up a tent at the 1st Medical Brigade Motorpool and provided our Soldiers with free breakfast, resources, and words of encouragement and support. From their response, it was clear that our Soldiers were struggling and that the support was both unexpected and well received.

That same Monday, when I arrived at my office at STRONG STAR, I was greeted with an outpouring of compassion and support from my colleagues. They asked how my Soldiers and I were doing, and when they learned that I was responsible for providing the families of our wounded and fallen Soldiers with meals throughout the week, they insisted on helping with my efforts. Many donated personal funds for groceries, others donated non-perishable food, and one person organized mini food drives in her local neighborhood. Another coworker reached out to her church and was able to hold a collection to benefit our unit.

The results were a true lesson in the value of spirited teamwork, as I was able to provide our Soldiers' families with food throughout the week following the shooting. Thanks to the help of two other volunteers and many of my wonderful STRONG STAR coworkers, we also were able to provide enough food for about 200 Soldiers who attended a reception following a unit-level memorial service for our fallen Soldier.

The provisions that our Soldiers and Army families received over these past few weeks is something that we will never forget. Just two weeks ago, our battalion leadership held a formation with our entire battalion (nearly 350 Soldiers) and asked that those who volunteered their time, funds, and effort be present. Each individual was given a certificate of appreciation by the battalion command team. Then, when the Soldiers were released for the day, each one approached our volunteers, shook their hands, and thanked them for what they've done to take care of their brothers and sisters in uniform.

When duty calls, we count on our Soldiers to respond. Without a second thought, we expect them to react, and we depend on their protection and service to maintain a sense of safety and security. They deploy with the expectation that they will likely be faced with hostility and danger. We support them because we appreciate their service and sacrifice and because we want them to know that we stand behind them. When they return home, they no longer anticipate that level of support because they have made it home safely - their mission is complete and they are considered no longer in danger.

When our Soldiers were attacked at Fort Hood, they never expected the response they received. When our community stepped up to the plate and embraced them during an incredibly difficult and emotional time, we were met with genuine gratitude and humility. There are no words I could use to describe the relief and appreciation I've seen in their eyes with each meal delivered and each kind gesture of support. Nor will I soon forget the love and support that I received while trying my best to be strong for my Army family.

Strong Star Team Photo 1

On 17 April 2014, the 21st Combat Support Hospital at Fort Hood held a recognition ceremony to thank all those who provided meritorious service in support of the 21st CSH Soldiers and families affected by the recent shootings on post. Shown here are Soldiers from the 21st CSH, a representative from Rosa's Café, and STRONG STAR employees.

Links:

Abstracts for Alan Peterson
Public and Technical Abstracts: The STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium

Abstracts for Douglas Williamson
Technical Abstract: The STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium

Abstracts for Edna Foa
Public and Technical Abstracts: The STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium

Abstracts for Peter Fox
Public and Technical Abstracts: The STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium

Abstracts for Robert Gatchel
Public and Technical Abstracts: The STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium

Abstracts for Brett Litz
Public and Technical Abstracts: The STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium

Abstracts for Candice Monson
Public and Technical Abstracts: The STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium

Abstracts for Patricia Resick
Public and Technical Abstracts: The STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium

Abstracts for John Roache
Public and Technical Abstracts: The STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium

Abstracts for Randy Strong
Public and Technical Abstracts: The STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium

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