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TSR team is at your service

HOLLOMAN AFB, N.M. -- As of this past March, Air Force instruction requires all bases with a medical treatment facility to have at least one traumatic stress response team to help and educate those who may have had direct exposure to a potentially traumatic event.

"A potentially traumatic event is direct exposure or personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury," said Capt. Jeremy Haskell, 49th Medical Operations Squadron and TSR team chief. "It could also involve a threat to one's personal integrity or learning about an unexpected or violent death, serious harm and threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate."

The TSR team is made up of three parts: Life Skills, Spiritual Support and Airman and Family Readiness Center, said Captain Haskell.

"By requiring Chapel, Life Skills and Airman and Family Readiness Center personnel, the program incorporates three key elements that should be addressed when dealing with TSR: the psychological/clinical, the spiritual and the social/educational," said Ms. Lenn Furrow, AFRC director and member of the TSR team. "Each of these elements contributes to the ultimate goal, which is to enhance resiliency to potentially traumatic events."

The TSR team accomplishes the goal of enhancing resiliency by consulting with leaders regarding potentially traumatic events, preparing personnel who are likely to be exposed to potentially traumatic events and providing education, screenings, psychological first aid and referrals to those exposed to potentially traumatic events, said Captain Haskell.

"TSR team services, to include pre-exposure preparation, education, screenings and referrals, are not medical services and do not involve medical or mental health record documentation," said the captain. "Following a potentially traumatic event, individuals can seek up to four one-on-one sessions with any member of the TSR team. These meetings are for the purpose of education and consultation, not for medical assessment and treatment."

Although responses to a potentially traumatic event vary from person to person, typical responses include being on edge and restless; having exaggerated, startled responses; irritability or outbursts of anger; sadness; fatigue; being preoccupied; trouble sleeping and appetite disturbances.

"A few key concepts to know when dealing with traumatic stress are: trauma-related stress reactions are normal reactions to abnormal situations. Airmen are specially selected and trained to perform under highly stressful circumstances and coping with, and surviving, a traumatic event enhances resilience and self confidence," said Captain Haskell.

Captain Haskell advises those who are dealing with a potentially traumatic event to talk about feelings of stress with others; pay attention to basic needs such as sleep, diet, exercise, social and spiritual needs and help others who are in need.

The TSR team was created by the Air Force as a way for Airmen to be educated and get the help they need if ever exposed to a potentially traumatic event.