On Oct. 28, the Washington Navy Yard Recovery Task Force established the Joint Recovery Team to assist all personnel affected by the events of Sept. 16 at the Washington Navy Yard. The Joint Recovery Team has focused its efforts on assisting employees who worked in the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters building and were displaced by the events. The team is a unique team of representatives from Federal Occupational Health and Navy Medicine, and chaplains.
By Lt. Christopher Ragsdale
Team Leader, Naval Sea Systems Command West Joint Recovery Team
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Wounded Ill and Injured
People respond in different ways when exposed to traumatic events. How they bounce back from such events is called resilience. During the course of a person’s life, they develop a set of internal resources and external resources that fuels this resilience. An internal resource can be a person’s spiritual belief that guides and comforts them during tough times. An external resource can be support from a relative or friend that gives a person the confidence and reassurance. What makes resilience complex is that no two people have the same internal and external resource fuel tanks.
How a person responds to a traumatic event is directly related to those pre-existing resources and interpersonal skills that have been developed through the course of one’s life. Some of these interpersonal skills are a form of problem solving and happens naturally.
Resilience is a key discussion topic for a person or group of people who have been exposed to trauma. This is especially important when there are concerns about the long term impact of experiencing a traumatic event, whether it is a person’s psychological recovery from a car accident, sexual abuse, domestic violence, multiple combat deployments or a mass casualty such as the tragedy at the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 16th.
The Joint Recovery Team assigned to Naval Sea Systems Command West headquarters, at Buzzard Point, is a unique group of professionals that recognize the factors that contribute to “bouncing back.” The model is adapted from a concept borrowed from the U.S. Marine Corps called Operational Stress Control and Readiness, with a focus of “a program by Marines, for Marines.” The Navy’s model is a program, by the Washington Navy Yard, for the Washington Navy Yard.
The Washington Navy Yard model used at Naval Sea Systems Command includes a group of professionals who are experienced in resolving various forms of trauma, not only medical but spiritual. The team includes experts licensed and credentialed to diagnose and treat mental health disorders, a chaplain to facilitate spiritual support, and a hospital corpsman with multiple deployments to Iraq.
The Joint Recovery Team can assist Navy civilians, service members, contractor and family members who need mental health services to an appropriate provider via a very skilled case manager. Many times during a post traumatic event a person does not need or require a mental health diagnosis or therapy, but someone to talk too. The Joint Recovery Team is available to answer questions and sometimes a brief meeting is all a person needs.
What makes the Joint Recovery Team different from most mental health models is our intention to be considered part of the Naval Sea Systems Command family. By spending more time with Naval Sea Systems Command employees in their locations at Naval Sea Systems Command West and the Washington Navy Yard, we avoid becoming the mental health professionals in the white lab coats that work at the hospital. We want to be considered Naval Sea Systems Command resource that is easily approached because we are here with you for you.
The other difference we offer is enhancing Naval Sea Systems Command’s ability to take care of Naval Sea Systems Command. The Joint Recovery Team capitalizes upon Naval Sea Systems Command’s amazing capacity for caring for one another by creating a set of mentors who can recognize responses by their colleagues that may be concerning. These mentors will learn how to approach a colleague in need and then if necessary get them access to the right type of care whether it is financial counseling, psychological resources and/or spiritual resources. We look forward to being part of the Naval Sea Systems Command family.
The Joint Recovery Team is located at Naval Sea Systems Command West in rooms T05-1205 (near pylon 11H) and TO5-1217 (near pylon 11K). If you or someone you know is assigned to the Washington Navy Yard and would like to meet with a member of the Joint Recovery Team, please come by the office or email us at NavyYardHelp@navy.mil.