Wounded service members’ families receive special attention, needed care

Friday, June 28, 2013

This month’s AUSA Family Report highlights a program that showcases imaginative, cutting-edge therapies for our returning service members and their families.

The family component is most crucial, as there are many reintegration and rehabilitation programs available, but not as many that are family inclusive.

This is surprising because, if we acknowledge that the whole family serves, we should also acknowledge that when a service member returns from combat, the whole family is affected too.

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) recognizes these challenges, and in addition to state-of-the art medical treatment, the center has taken a creative and innovative approach to therapy.

Although the traditional therapy models have been successful, NICoE has also incorporated the arts into their therapy approach.

Their Healing Arts Program provides cutting-edge evaluation, treatment planning, research, and education through a holistic patient-centered approach; a certified art therapist, as part of the treatment team, leads the program.

A four-week arts curriculum was built into the holistic care model and includes mask-making, montages, and expressive writing sessions led by a combat veteran writer.

Individualized sessions are supported with weekly group sessions, and the art studio is outfitted with art and writing supplies, a piano, an electronic drum set, and multiple guitars.

The studio also serves as a community space open to service members whenever group or individual therapy is not in session.

See more about the NICoE below from the center’s Family Program staff:


Maximizing family resilience

At the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md., Cmdr. Wendy Pettit and Ihsan Rogers are charting a path toward resilience for the family members of wounded service members.

Attention to a patient’s environmental life factors, especially family, play a crucial role in the NICoE’s patient-centric approach to care, and Pettit and Rogers, both social workers by training, cast wide nets when approaching a patient’s recovery.

"You cannot treat the patient in isolation and not provide education to the family about their new normal, whatever that may be," Rogers said.

The Family Program at NICoE is designed to conduct assessments, provide personalized education and skills training, and connect patients and families with appropriate resources.

By conducting focused assessments to meet individual families’ needs, Pettit and Rogers hope to establish a shared common language, provide positive communication skills and set shared goals for the family reflective of the treatment plan for the service member.

In addition, family members will attend a series of educational modules designed to increase knowledge and awareness of the service members’ injuries and their impact on the family unit.

The NICoE Family Program formally launched on April 29, 2013, continues to evolve to meet the needs of military families visiting the NICoE.

The program seeks to establish itself as an important and accessible resource for patients and families, both at the NICoE and beyond, affected by comorbid psychological health and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The NICoE is an outpatient treatment facility and research institute located just across the street from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

It serves as a resource for active duty service members suffering from combat and mission-related traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions.

The interdisciplinary care model includes clinical evaluation, patient and family-focused intervention and individualized treatment planning, utilizing care teams representing a wide range of therapeutic disciplines.

For additional information on the NICoE, visit the NICoE website at nicoe.capmed.mil, or contact Joshua Stueve at (301) 319- 3619.