NFL Stars and Vets Support Injured Servicemembers
(February 5, 2010)
|MIAMI, Feb. 2, 2010 – Scientists, researchers and former NFL
players have joined together to raise awareness about
post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and brain
injuries, a spokesman for the Defense Department “Real
Warriors” program said today. |
It is important for everyone to understand the needs of
servicemembers returning from combat deployments, Army Brig.
Gen. Richard Thomas, assistant surgeon general for force
protection, said during an interview with The Pentagon
Channel at the Super Bowl media center in Fort Lauderdale,
|Army Brig. Gen. Richard Thomas, assistant
surgeon general for force protection, left, and
former NFL players Rocky Bleier and Eric Hipple
pose for a photo in between interviews at the
Super Bowl Media Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The men have joined together to raise awareness
about the dangers of traumatic brain injuries
and mental health issues for servicemembers and
A substantial number of servicemembers returning from
deployment have sustained some type of traumatic brain
injury, Thomas said. |
Thomas was joined by NFL stars Eric Hipple, a former
quarterback for the Detroit Lions who is now the outreach
coordinator with the University of Michigan Depression
Center, and Rocky Bleier, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star
recipient and four-time Super Bowl winner.
Bleier has documented the problems he had after returning
from Vietnam. He noted that both troops who return from war
and NFL players who have retired from football often are
reluctant to seek help for problems due to the stigma
attached to counseling. Hipple added that when you don't ask
for help, problems can get worse.
“Identifying the symptoms early on is huge,” Hipple said. He
explained that soldiers develop separation anxiety, which
can lead to other issues such as clinical depression. And,
he said that many mental health conditions constitute brain
injuries, and like physical injuries, they need to be
treated to heal.
The impact of the trauma some former football players feel
is compounded for servicemembers, Bleier said.
“When football is over, you're out, you're done,” he said.
But for those who have served in the military, it's “a
Former servicemembers have to find a job, “and if they do
find a job and they also have these mental health issues,
then they have to have a supportive workplace that will
allow them to deal with these issues,” Bleier said.
There are vehicles for servicemembers to get help for
medical problems, Thomas said, but they “have to initiate
Bleier recommended that one step in the right direction is
for servicemembers to take the master resiliency training
that is part of the comprehensive soldier fitness program.
Article and photo by
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
American Forces Press Service
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