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Source: United States Air Force

I often look around the room and wonder, who is suffering in silence…facing challenges that no one else can see…scarred by traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress. We have a national security strategy to protect American people, promote resilience, renew our competitive edge and influence our partners. Over 3 million men and women have served in the military since 9/11, and yet there is a lack of understanding around invisible wounds. It may surprise you that in 1946, New England Journal of Medicine researchers could predict who was going to develop post-traumatic stress through poor sleep patterns. In our military population, lack of sleep is associated with more anxiety, more depression, more PTS, more alcohol abuse and unfortunately more suicidality. Sleep, pain and mood management are critical to improving total force fitness. Our challenge is that trauma is unique to the individual. What is traumatic for one, may not be traumatic to someone else, which is why it is so difficult to detect. Our military members are the best trained and well-equipped in the world, and can take on every enemy, except for the one within. Quite simply, we’ve got to start talking to each other, and asking tough questions.

MIL Security OSI