Soldier of Valor

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Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, assigned to White Platoon fire team, 8-1 Cavalry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides overwatch on a road near Dahla Dam, Afghanistan, July 2012. (U.S Army photo/Photo Illuststration by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Niegel/Released)

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, assigned to White Platoon fire team, 8-1 Cavalry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides overwatch on a road near Dahla Dam, Afghanistan, July 2012. (U.S Army photo/Photo Illuststration by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Niegel/Released)

Story by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Chapman

The room hummed with the steady clicks of camera shutters as Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter and his wife, Shannon, were the center of attention during a press conference at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., July 29.

Carter will receive the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House, Aug. 26, for his courageous actions while deployed to the Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, in October 2009. He was a cavalry scout assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, out of Fort Carson, Colo., during his first of two deployments to Afghanistan.

Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Ty Carter, front, and Army Staff Sgt. Jimmy Justice, a section leader, sight in their M14 sniper rifles at the Observation Point Fritsche helicopter landing zone in Afghanistan, June 2009. The Soldiers wanted to collect data on how their bullets traveled at that particular altitude. (U.S. Army photo/Released)

U.S. Army Spc. Ty Carter, front, and Army Staff Sgt. Jimmy Justice, a section leader, sight in their M14 sniper rifles at the Observation Point Fritsche helicopter landing zone in Afghanistan, June 2009. The Soldiers wanted to collect data on how their bullets traveled at that particular altitude. (U.S. Army photo/Released)

On Oct. 3, 2009, more than 400 anti-Afghan forces attempted to take over Combat Outpost Keating. Carter, who was a specialist at the time, and his fellow Soldiers defended the small combat outpost against rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons fire coming from the surrounding hills. Of the 54 members who defended the position, eight Soldiers were killed and more than 25 were injured.

“A long time ago I told myself that if I was ever placed in a combat situation, that I wouldn’t let fear make my choices for me,” said Carter, during the press conference. “Inside, all I thought about was supporting the men in that position. When Mace was down it was hard to think about anything else but doing what I could to get to him.”

During the more than six-hour battle, Carter found himself resupplying Soldiers with ammunition, providing first aid, killing enemy combatants and risking his own life to save that of his fellow Soldier, Spc. Stephan L. Mace, who was wounded and pinned down under enemy fire, according to Carter’s award narrative.

While being recommended for the Medal of Honor was a surprise, Carter shared that receiving this medal was the last thing on his mind after he redeployed.

Photo: Army Sgt. Ty Carter pauses for a final photo with his wife, Shannon, before deploying from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., May 2012, with A Troop, 8-1 Cavalry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. (Carter Family courtesy photo)

Army Sgt. Ty Carter pauses for a final photo with his wife, Shannon, before deploying from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., May 2012, with A Troop, 8-1 Cavalry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. (Carter Family courtesy photo)

“I was going through some difficulties then and I was so concerned about the men we lost and friends that it didn’t even faze me,” said Carter, a native of Antioch, Calif. “I don’t want to put down the Medal of Honor and what it means, but when you have lost family, it’s not what you are thinking about. I just felt loss.”

Carter hopes that while being in the spotlight as a Medal of Honor recipient, he will also focus on post-traumatic stress, and bring more awareness to those who struggle with it daily.

Carter, who is currently assigned to the Secretary to the General Staff, 7th Infantry Division, concluded the conference saying that he was very nervous to go to the White House but meeting the commander in chief will truly be an honor.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

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Soldier of Valor

Locks of Love

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A few years ago, a college friend of mine had mentioned that she wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love. I had never heard of it before, so I decided to look it up. Basically, the organization takes donated hair and turns it into wigs for needy children who have lost their own hair. Excellent idea!

Now, it does take quite a long time for hair to grow long. So, donating all of your hair to the organization is most certainly a good cause. One particular Army Captain is doing just that.

It takes years for hair to grow long, but only a few seconds to remove it. Army Sergeant Rebecca Schwab tells us about one Army Captain who’s giving it all up for a good cause.

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Locks of Love

Army Freedom File Update

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With the war in Afghanistan starting to be controlled by Afghan troops, American troops train them in proper tactics, and techniques to keep them and civilians safe.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

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Army Freedom File Update

Top Tech: Transparent Spinel Ceramic

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Top Technology is an Armed with Science series that highlights the latest and greatest federal laboratory inventions which are available for transfer to business partners. Want to suggest an invention? Email us at science@dma.mil

Transparent Spinel Ceramic in action.  (photo provided by the Naval Research Laboratory)

Transparent Spinel Ceramic in action. (photo provided by the Naval Research Laboratory)

Technology: Transparent Spinel Ceramic

Agency: Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a suite of processes to create transparent spinel ceramic, which is superior to the glass, sapphire, and other materials traditionally used for applications such as high-energy lasers, windows, and lightweight armor.

What is it?

It’s a new kind of material using a unique new process.

Commonly-used vacuum hot presses are utilized to sinter spinel powder into transparent solid materials. Sintering is a method used to create objects from powders.  The NRL method includes a novel spray-coating process to uniformly coat the spinel powder particles with a sintering aid. As a result, the amount of sintering aid required is reduced significantly, while still allowing the end product to be sintered to full density and transparency.

Additionally, the sintering process was modified to completely eliminate residual LiF through evaporation and thereby avoids unwanted chemical reactions.

What does that mean?

It means that the Naval Research Lab has created a process that reinvents the material of the wheel, so to speak.  Creating transparent materials is nothing new; humans were doing that in the ancient world. However, the type of material this is – and the way the military could use it – is really what sets it apart.  This kind of transparent spinel ceramic could be used to produce consumer electronics, high energy lasers, event transparent armor.

Think about that for a second.  Transparent armor.  If you could get it to change color and restore stamina we’re that much closer to a video-game like armor reality.

What does it do?

Let’s break it down to the basics.  NRL’s transparent spinel ceramic can be used to make the work of the service member a little easier, more effective, or lightweight.  Some of the applications involve new awesome window choices (the stronger and more durable the better, especially on deployment) and of course the awesome aforementioned armor.  The transparent spinel ceramic can also be paired with its patented BGG glass material.   Why would you want to do that, you ask?  Well, the pairing offers excellent optical transmission in the visible and mid-infrared wavelength range.  The low cost, ease of use, and production offered by glass provides additional advantages.

How can this help?

Okay, so let’s talk about the advantages.  The transparent spinel ceramic provides excellent transmission in visible wavelengths and mid-wavelength infrared (0.2-5.0 microns).  This is superior to sapphire.  The material is also versatile; able to process scalability to large sizes and complex shapes.  It is strong, rigid, and environmentally durable.  Not to mention cost effective.  The reduced manufacturing cost over existing technologies is a definite plus.  Also it’s easy to make in general.  High reproducibility, high yield.

My take?

Creating better, more effective materials is the name of the game when it comes to innovation.  We’ve come a long way since the ancient Romans made clear glass trendy and popular (thanks to manganese dioxide, of course).  This is another step in that progressive bigger-and-better evolution.  When it comes down to it, any advent that allows soldiers to be safer/more protected and is cost effective is going to have some serious advantages.

The military has often been at the forefront of technological innovation, constantly seeking affordable, long-lasting solutions to problems that impact not only service members, but humanity in general.  Imagine what could happen if we started using this kind of material on our typical glass products?  I think my cat will have a harder time with her cat gravity experiments (see: breaking stuff) if that’s the case.

It looks like plastic may have a real run for its money.  Is transparent spinel ceramic going to be the next big thing?  I guess that’s up to you.

Want to learn more?  Click here for more information on this technology!

Are you interested more federal inventions? The Naval Research Laboratory has a broad portfolio of technologies that are available for commercialization. Visit their official website to learn more!

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Jessica L. Tozer is a blogger for DoDLive and Armed With Science.  She is an Army veteran and an avid science fiction fan, both of which contribute to her enthusiasm for technology in the military.

Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

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Top Tech: Transparent Spinel Ceramic

LSP Preparing Marines for Higher Education

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A Marine supervises from the center of The Basic School permanent personnel battalion during a 10-mile hike aboard the westside of Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 28, 2013. This was the first hike The Basic School has done for regimental physical training in the last 3 years. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cuong Le/Released)

A Marine supervises from the center of The Basic School permanent personnel battalion during a 10-mile hike aboard the westside of Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 28, 2013. This was the first hike The Basic School has done for regimental physical training in the last 3 years. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cuong Le/Released)

Ensuring quality education and admission support from institutions of higher learning is crucial to a smooth transition.  There are many programs available outside of government but the military services are also interested in developing complimentary programs for those veterans wishing to compete and place through traditional school admissions processes. The Marine Corps created the Leadership Scholar Program (LSP) to assist exiting Marines gain admission to colleges and universities for their desired undergraduate program.

Marines who are selected into the program are given top-notch support throughout the transition and admission process.  This support includes assisting Marines in the application process, coordinating interviews with admission officers, providing consistent updates on application status, and offering a single point of contact to answer any and all questions.  Sgt. Michael Liao will be separating in June and thanks to the LSP will be attending Princeton University.  He stated, “The Leadership Scholar Program plays a critical role by advocating on behalf of Marines, to college admissions boards.”  Many times it can be difficult for service members to portray all the experiences and expertise gained while serving to an admissions board.  LSP takes an active approach to giving Marines an opportunity to communicate these unique skills in person.

Another aspect of LSP is a partnership with colleges and universities.  When a college or university signs on to participate in the Leadership Scholar Program they are committing to secure acceptance of qualified applicants.  Through this partnership the colleges/universities provide the LSP with all necessary admission requirements, timelines, academic criteria, and reporting instructions.  Relationships built between the Marine Corps and these institutions provide an avenue for Marines to receive dedicated admission support and interviews when needed.

To be eligible to participate in the LSP, Marines must be high school graduates and possess a minimum combined score of a 70 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) and a General Technical (GT) score of 115 or higher.  Applicants are screened to ensure they meet the requirements of the institution to which they wish to apply and then forwarded to the admissions office for a final decision.  Marines usually start the LSP application process at least 12 months before leaving active duty. 

Through these efforts the admissions process is less daunting as LSP acts as the conduit to helping Marines navigate into the school do their choice.  Former Marine, Joseph Prive speaks of his LSP experience, “I attended a few LSP-sponsored meetings with admissions counselors from elite universities, and I then realized that even I could be a successful student, pursue my interests, and enjoy it.  LSP provided me with direction, encouragement and confidence when I needed it the most.”  Currently, the LSP has over 238 institutions in 45 States and the District of Columbia participating, with a long range goal of having at least two colleges/universities in each State.  These partners recognize that a Marine’s experience while in the military make them well-suited for success in an academic environment.

Get more information on the Leadership Scholar Program

Rosye Cloud is Director of Policy for Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Military Families

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LSP Preparing Marines for Higher Education

Worth A Thousand Words: Suite Up

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Photo: Lance Cpl. Dylan Shuler, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), helps Lance Cpl. Jarrod Roper, 22nd MEU, don his level "B" protective suit during hazardous material response training at the Guardian Centers in Perry, Ga., June 21, 2013.  The training was a week long course that was custom-tailored to the needs of the 22nd MEU.  U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Austin Hazard.Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Shuler helps Lance Cpl. Jarrod Roper don his level “B” protective suit during hazardous material response training at the Guardian Centers in Perry, Ga., June 21, 2013.  The training was a week long course that was custom-tailored to the needs of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Austin Hazard/Released)

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Worth A Thousand Words: Suite Up

U.S.,Coalition Forces Conduct Amphibious Landing on Red Beach

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Marines and sailors from 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, and Naval Beach Group 1 conducted amphibious landings on Red Beach with Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAV) and both U.S. and Japanese Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs) as a part of exercise Dawn Blitz, June 24. Dawn Blitz 2013 is an amphibious exercise testing U.S. and coalition forces in skills expected of a Navy and Marine Corps amphibious task force. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Reel)

By Lance Cpl. Scott Reel
1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade

Marines and sailors from 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, and Naval Beach Group 1 conducted amphibious landings on Red Beach with Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAV) and both U.S. and Japanese Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs) as a part of exercise Dawn Blitz, June 24.

It was the culminating multinational, amphibious event during the month-long exercise Dawn Blitz. The raid on Red Beach tested U.S. and coalition forces’ ability to conduct operations together.

Dawn Blitz 2013 is an amphibious exercise testing U.S. and coalition forces in skills expected of a Navy and Marine Corps amphibious task force. It is a multinational exercise that promotes interoperability. Participating countries include Canada, Japan, New Zealand and military observers from seven countries.

Brig. Gen. John J. Broadmeadow, commanding general of 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Rear Adm. John E. Jolliffe, deputy commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet, Lt. Gen. Peter Delvin, Canadian Army, Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Short, commander of joint forces New Zealand, and Japans spoke at a press conference following the raid about the importance of a coalition effort and the success of Dawn Blitz.

“The amphibious landing is just one important aspect of what’s going on during exercise Dawn Blitz,” Broadmeadow said. “It’s a great example of what the Navy and the Marine Corps bring to our country and to our nation’s defense. The ability to use the sea as maneuver space, come across the beach and influence of events ashore.”

“I don’t know when where or what the next crisis in this world is going to be …. But I do know is that what we’re doing here during Dawn Blitz is helping not only the Navy and Marine Corps team hone it’s skills, but it’s also letting us understand our coalition partners so that when we do have to respond to whatever crisis is out there, we can do it effectively and together,” Broadmeadow said.

The Red Beach landing requires Marines to do a number of tasks as a team, but beyond the beach the Navy plays an important and vital role during any amphibious exercise.

“We spent the last dozen years fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, focused on land warfare and we’ve gotten away from our amphibious roots,” Jolliffe said. “Dawn Blitz is a tremendous success and we could do it without our coalition partners that are here working with us.”

For more on Dawn Blitz, visit this link.

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U.S.,Coalition Forces Conduct Amphibious Landing on Red Beach

Worth A Thousand Words: Bubble Up

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Photo: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Linder, assigned to Commander Task Group 56.1, and a sailor from the Royal Jordanian Navy surface after placing a charge for an underwater detonation during Exercise Eager Lion. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Wyatt Huggett/Released)

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Linder, assigned to Commander Task Group 56.1, and a Royal Jordanian Navy sailor surface after placing a charge for an underwater detonation during Exercise Eager Lion on June 13, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Wyatt Huggett/Released)

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Worth A Thousand Words: Bubble Up

Marine Proposes to Girlfriend at Padres Game

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Who doesn’t like a good proposal video? People have come up with some really fantastic, creative ways to do it. For instance, the one where the guy creates a movie trailer that is  played at an actual movie theater, the flash mob that the proposer participates in, or the lip-dub one. Well, one Marine decided to go above and beyond for his girlfriend.

Here’s a hint, “Play Ball!”

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

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Marine Proposes to Girlfriend at Padres Game

Keyboard Courage (Part One)

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This is the first in an Armed with Science two-part series about cyber bullying

(graphic illustration by Jessica L. Tozer)

(graphic illustration by Jessica L. Tozer)

Cyber bullies are everywhere.

They’re antagonistic and insulting.  Intentionally confrontational.  In many cases even racist, homophobic, sexist, or just plain prejudice.  And, just like any other social parasite, trolling cyber bullies grow with every negative response they get.  They’re not always easily dismissed, either.  You can’t just walk away from the stream of insulting comments they started on your Facebook wall, now can you?

I call this effect “keyboard courage”.

The keyboard is to the user what the bottle of alcohol is to the drinker.  Like alcohol, the inhibitions and judgments that would normally be there are absent when the user (bully or victim) takes to the keyboard.  This choice causes people to make damaging, embarrassing, or in some cases dangerous and even illegal mistakes.  They can be uncharacteristically violent, or oppositional, or emotional.

And sometimes when you start letting the vitriol flow you have a hard time stopping.  Or ignoring.  Or turning the other cheek.  It can even become an obsession.  This keyboard courage is giving trolls an avenue to ply their terrible trade, and it’s causing more than just angst and mild irritation.

In many cases, this kind of behavior can result in physical or psychological damage to others.

Dr. Mark Fisher is the Chief of Behavioral Pediatrics at the Military Mental Health Clinic on Fort Meade, MD.  He says there are several factors that come into play when we talk about cyber bullying and why, not the least of which being the fact that a lot of communication that happens these days is, in fact, on a more digital level.

“A lot of times I think kids, in this generation, that’s just the way they talk,” Dr. Fisher explains.  “It’s Facebook.  It’s texting.  It is cyber.”

Which is true; a lot more is said these days online than in generations past.  Kids are growing up being able to communicate to each other in this way, so it’s changing the game when it comes to what you should and shouldn’t say.  Or type, as it were.  Unfortunately, the Internet can also serve as a platform to attack, ridicule, criticize and harass.

The soapbox effect that the Internet has on the loud and the discontented is resonant.

The Internet (for all its awesomeness) is a way to impose on people where the physical threat, at least in the moment, comes off as minimal or nonexistent, Dr. Fisher explains.  It presents the illusion of safety with the freedom of expression.  And that can have some dangerous consequences.    There are stories all over the news outlets about the harm that widespread digital attacks can have on people.

Do not feed the trolls.  (Graphic illustration by Jessica L. Tozer)

Do not feed the trolls. (Graphic illustration by Jessica L. Tozer)

When you confront people online, he says, there is no face.  There is the potential for complete anonymity.   A lot more is said when the potential for immediate physical harm is lowered.  Dr. Fisher also mentions that a lot is lost in translation when it comes to texting and communicating online.

The non-verbal subtleties that we naturally pick up on when speaking in person are absent in that communication avenue.

This presents the opportunity for miscommunication.  Things could be taken out of context, or easily misinterpreted.  Especially for kids.  Kids are often victims of cyber bully attacks.  Adolescents can also take things personally (even if they’re not likely to admit it), and that means they’re more at risk of being attacked or affected by cyber bullying.

Service members and military families are in no way exempt from this rule.  Especially the military children.

“On the one hand it has the same impact,” Dr. Fisher explains.  “Kids are kids, whether you’re military or not, are being bullied.  What is different with the military kids is they may, at times, be more susceptible [to bullying].”

Military children already have a lot of things to contend with in their life.  They often have to deal with frequent moves, with deployed parents, with making new friends in new places, and even with serious things like death and loss.

That’s a lot of stuff for kids to have to deal with, and that’s not even including the normal kid stresses, like tests and school and friends and dating and all that.  Add the threat of internet destructo-commenters and it can often be too much.

This can also happen by bullying proxy.  Sometimes they feel they have to defend their parents in the eyes of their peers.  Sometimes, sadly, they are even mocked and taunted for having lost parents.  Something that happened even to kids I knew growing up.

“It’s another vulnerability,” Dr. Fisher says.  A vulnerability that can be exploited online, where many military kids might spend their time.  Social media and online interaction might be the only way they have to connect to friends and family since they move around so much.  But if all of this is happening on screen, how do you know how and if it’s affecting them IRL?

Good question.

Here are a few of the warning signs that a cyber bully could be a threat in your friend or child’s life:

–          Check for changes of personality and/or behavior.  If your kid spends time online all the time and suddenly they seem less interested, or they lose interest in the things they once liked doing, that’s a sign that things are not shipshape.

–          Avoidance of usual things.  They don’t want to go to school.  They don’t want to go near places where they could run into their peers.  They don’t want to change for PE.

–          Extreme onset apathy.  Their grades drop when once they were a good student.  They become introverted, anxious or disassociated.  They always seem worried or uncomfortable.

–          Regressive behavior.  Younger kids under duress experience this, Dr. Fisher explains.  They might wet the bed, or suck their thumb, or act uncharacteristically childish.

–          Suicide attempts.  This is the most severe and dangerous sign that something is wrong.  If your child attempts suicide, immediately get them help.

Now, many could argue that these are just the growing pains of being a teenager, but there’s more to it.  These are signs of depression and anxiety, and for as much as it might be a gray area between teenage angst and depression, it’s not good to ignore the signs, no matter how common they may be.

Part Two of Keyboard Courage will post on Monday, 17 June 2013

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Thanks to Dr. Mark Fisher for his contributions to these articles

Jessica L. Tozer is a blogger for DoDLive and Armed With Science.  She is an Army veteran and an avid science fiction fan, both of which contribute to her enthusiasm for technology in the military.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

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Keyboard Courage (Part One)