Navy Operational Stress Control Leader Training Piloted for Coast Guard

Story Number: NNS111012-10Release Date: 10/12/2011 5:21:00 PM
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From Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

ASTORIA, Ore. (NNS) -- Officers and senior enlisted leaders from U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Sector Columbia River were among the first to participate in the Coast Guard's pilot of the Navy's Operational Stress Control (OSC) Leader Course at Sector Columbia River Aug. 22.

The six-hour pilot course was presented in coordination with Coast Guard Headquarters and Work-Life Program Office. Course content focuses on instilling leaders with the importance of recognizing and attending to personnel in the early stages of stress reactions, and providing them with the skills they need to promote resilience.

"It's been a distinct pleasure presenting our Operational Stress Control Leader Course to the Coast Guard," said Capt. Lori Laraway, Navy OSC program manager. "Our shared maritime heritage provides a common and important cultural understanding of prevention and shipmate support that are keystones of successful OSC leadership."

Twelve of the initial attendees went on to attend a four day train-the-trainer course.

"Coast Guard leadership is currently considering a proposal to establish a USCG OSC Program," said John Reibling, Coast Guard Headquarters, Work-Life program manager. "It's consistent with the Coast Guard's Core values and 28 leadership competencies and adds important tools. When we see leaders responding to this training the way they have this week I'm very encouraged."

The course is characterized by dialogue, case studies and personal accounts of the impact of stress on individuals, families and units. It presents tools and leadership interventions needed to build and maintain wellness.

"Military life is stressful, no matter what uniform you or your family member wears," said Laraway, who collaborated with staff from the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center, Portsmouth, Va., in presenting the Train the Trainer sessions. "Because this curriculum enhances leadership capabilities and is not a "medical" course, it has been effective across a variety of Navy communities and hopefully will be useful to our Coast Guard brothers and sisters."

Laraway stated that the Coast Guard is known, for its selfless service to all mariners; when others are fleeing the path of a storm the Coast Guard is heading towards the storm to help those in distress.

"That compassion and dedication was evident as we taught the course this week," Laraway added, "We've learned from our Coast Guard students. A cultural focus on prevention and preparation is an ideal foundation for the understanding and identification of stress issues and the development of ways to mitigate its sometimes negative effects."

U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters and the Work-Life Program Office selected proven leaders to attend this train-the-trainer course. Commanding Officers, Command Master Chiefs, Officers in Charge and Station Chiefs were among the participants. Later in the week, these new OSC Lead facilitators presented the course to deck-plate leaders at USCG Station Cape Disappointment and Station Tillamook.

According to Laraway, feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive.

"Several participants indicated that the course helps to create a culture of understanding and that one of the biggest barriers to help is education," said Laraway. "Others indicated that having facilitators who were people they know, respect, and trust gave instant credibility to the course."

Pre and post-course assessment data collected from each course showed a highly significant increase in course participants' belief that they have the tools necessary to identify and manage operational stress and when to refer a shipmate who is dealing with overwhelming stress to resources outside the command.

Laraway stated that the OSC Leader course is more than an academic exercise; it's an effort to impart practical tools.

"We want Chiefs and officers to learn how to assess individual and unit stress responses, and then how to apply effective tools to reduce unnecessary stress, identify problems early, and reduce the stigma associated with psychological stress issues," said Laraway. "This specialized, practical, and effective training program. will enhance leaders' knowledge and skills, so their shipmates, commands and families can realize the benefits of prevention and early intervention."

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