TSR Teams: Strengthening Units' Resiliency

  • Published
  • By Earl Rivers
  • 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Services Flight
Traumatic Stress Response Teams are designated at each U.S. Air Force active-duty installation and are comprised of mental health professionals and paraprofessionals, chaplains and chaplain assistants, and Airman & Family Readiness Center's community readiness consultants. The Team Chief is a clinical psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker. This multidisciplinary team of experts stands ready 24/7 to serve the Hurlburt Field community.

"The purpose of a TSR Team is to strengthen resilience in individuals and units which are, or may be, exposed to potentially traumatic events," said U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Lt. Cmdr. Sean Bennett, team chief of Hurlburt TSR. "This purpose is achieved proactively through providing pre-exposure preparation training to individuals and units who anticipate direct exposure to PTEs. Also, a TSR team enhances resilience through delivering education, intervention, screening, psychological first-aid and referral services to individuals who either witnessed personally, or were involved directly in, a PTE."

Some examples of PTEs that are witnessed include: observing the serious injury or unnatural death of another person due to a violent assault; a severe/fatal accident; war; a disaster; or unexpectedly witnessing a dead body or body parts. Additionally, examples of PTEs that are experienced directly include: military combat; violent personal assault; being kidnapped or taken hostage; terrorist attack; natural or man-made disaster; severe automobile accident; or being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

Fortunately, most individuals exposed to a PTE will not experience long-term adverse effects. Yet, an exposure to a PTE may result in short-term symptoms, which are typical stress responses to an abnormal situation, such as:
  • Feeling keyed-up, on edge, and restless; hyper-vigilance; exaggerated startle response.
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger; sadness and crying; fatigue; muscle tension.
  • Difficulty concentrating, pre-occupation with the traumatic event.
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep.
  • Appetite disturbances (e.g., forgetting to eat or drink); etc.
"TSR services can mitigate these symptoms and prevent potential longer-term problems," Bennett said. "And a TSR team provides these services in close coordination with unit leaders. An individual's or unit's participation in TSR interventions is voluntary. Although, unit leaders may require affected personnel receive TSR education. Since TSR services are not medical or mental health treatment, no medical or MH record documentation is required."

To activate the Hurlburt TSR Team, the 1st Special Operations Wing Command Post notifies the TSR Team Chief when the wing CP leaders become aware of a PTE. Also, a unit commander may consult with the TSR Team Chief regarding potential and actual traumatic events, as well as for PEP training.

To assist Hurlburt Field commanders, first sergeants, leaders and supervisors in strengthening units' resiliency, the Hurlburt Mental Health Flight provides a wide range of prevention, education, evaluation, treatment and referral services. The MH Flight is located on the second floor of the Hurlburt Main Clinic and the staff can be reached at 881-4237.