JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
A federally funded, multi-institutional research group focused on combat post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions in active-duty military members will soon conclude a monthlong informational campaign at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.
A Mental Health Month initiative, the campaign of the South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience, also known as STRONG STAR, strives to raise awareness about the availability of participation in research studies testing treatments for PTSD, said Amanda Flores, STRONG STAR community outreach coordinator.
“We are able to share information about treatment options, advocate for mental health care and counteract the stigma that may make it hard for some to seek help,” she said.
STRONG STAR’s outreach throughout June consists of an information table below the bulletin board near the family health section of the JBSA-Randolph Medical Clinic. In addition, Flores and Gina Ramirez, JBSA-Randolph Mental Health Outreach coordinator, were on hand at the clinic June 12 to provide information and answer questions on PTSD and STRONG STAR’s efforts; they will also visit the Rambler Fitness Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 26.
“The response was very positive when we visited the clinic,” Flores said. “We were able to connect with clinicians, staff, active-duty military personnel, veterans and families.”
The STRONG STAR Consortium works to develop and evaluate the most effective early interventions possible for the detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD and related conditions in active-duty military members and recently discharged veterans.
The world’s largest combat-related PTSD research group, STRONG STAR comprises more than 150 collaborating investigators from more than 40 military, Department of Veterans Affairs and civilian institutions.
“Under the leadership of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, STRONG STAR brings together the expertise of a world-class team of military, civilian and VA institutions and investigators and one of the largest populations of post-9/11 military service members and veterans in the nation,” Flores said. “With the critical mass of talent required to make major scientific advances in combat-related PTSD research, STRONG STAR investigators hope to improve countless lives by preventing the development of chronic PTSD and related problems in a new generation of veterans.”
PTSD affects hundreds of thousands of past and current service members, including many living in the San Antonio area, Flores said.
“Of the nearly 3 million U.S. service members who have deployed since Sept. 11, 2001, an estimated 14 percent, or more than 400,000, are believed to have PTSD,” she said. “The percentages are similar for the San Antonio area.”
STRONG STAR’s efforts are helping veterans and guiding policy makers, Flores said.
“More than 6,000 military service members and veterans have received treatment for PTSD directly through our clinical research trials evaluating evidence-based treatments tailored to the needs of the military,” she said. “The goal is to return these individuals to their work and families with a higher quality of life.
“In addition, the findings from our research studies are guiding military and VA policy on treatment of PTSD and related conditions, such as sleep disorders, chronic pain and suicidality.”
Flores said she hopes the informational campaign at JBSA-Randolph will help educate people on the signs and symptoms of PTSD.
“We want our military personnel to feel that there are options for treatment and that there is no shame in asking for help,” she said. “We will continue to accomplish this with ongoing outreach about our research, not only on our military bases, but within the San Antonio community and beyond.”
Some of the other resources available to those affected by PTSD include the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, Military OneSource, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Military Pathways and the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.