Skip main navigation

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

Mental Stress is like a ‘Check Engine Light’ Flashing–Don’t Ignore It

Image of Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David talks about his  journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program during a video conversation with Defense Health Agency Command Sgt. Major Michael Gragg. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David spoke about his own journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program during a video conversation with Defense Health Agency Command Sgt. Major Michael Gragg at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Nov. 19.

For one Air Force senior enlisted leader, the problem of “combat stress” and the toll it takes on warfighters – and often on their families, too – continues to be an issue that the military community struggles to fully understand.

“Sometimes they don’t feel right about only having mental injuries. They don’t think it’s a big deal, but it is,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David, the chief enlisted manager for the Defense Media Activity.

David spoke about his own journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program during a video conversation with Defense Health Agency Command Sgt. Major Michael Gragg at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Nov. 19. They were both attending Virtual CARE Week events as part of the DOD’s Warrior Care Month observance.

David was seriously wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom and said he “had a hard time with recovery in general.” He later was deployed to Afghanistan, and made use both times of mental health care services available to troops and veterans as part of his recovery.

“I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve seen a psychiatrist. I'm not ashamed to say I’ve been to behavioral or mental health care,” he told Gragg during their conversation during the Day of Healing events

David also spoke about the continued societal stigmatization of wounded warriors.

“Aside from the physical [injuries], the mental stress – they call it combat stress – that is a bizarre concept for folks that are not serving, who haven’t served, or don’t know anyone who has served in the armed forces,” he said.

The physical and mental recovery “takes a toll on yourself, your family, and your livelihood.”

And for those who have invisible wounds, the burden can even be bigger, David said.

He used the analogy of an automobile engine warning light to help explain the effects that psychological injuries can have.

“What happens when your check engine light turns on? Do you just ignore it until your engine stops or are you responsible because you’re thinking about the longer game, you’re thinking about the big picture?”

“You don’t know if it’s going to be a dramatic chain of events that’s going to ultimately hurt you in the long run.”

The priority placed on mental health and total force fitness reflects a generational change for many senior leaders, David said.

“Leaders should include Warrior Care in their toolbox,” David said. “You can’t be the leader you grew up with today in 2021. You have to evolve” in your thoughts and actions about wounded warriors and warrior care.

“You have to be a different leader. What worked 20 to 30 years ago won’t work today.”

Visit the Defense Health Agency Facebook page for more of the interview with David.

In addition to Warrior Care programs and each Service’s treatment programs, Military OneSource provides wounded warrior specialty consultation services to help eligible wounded, ill or injured service members, veterans and their families get immediate assistance for issues related to health care, resources, facilities and benefits. Service members and veterans injured in accidents or battling serious illnesses are also eligible.

For help with thoughts of suicide, contact the Military & Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 and select Option 1

You also may be interested in...

Policy
Apr 9, 2013

Instruction: #DoD Instruction 6025.20, DoD Instruction 6025.20: Medical Management (MM) Programs in the Direct Care System (DCS) and Remote Areas

Establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes uniform guidelines, procedures, and standards for the implementation of clinical case management (CM) in the Military Health System (MHS), for TRICARE beneficiaries including care of the wounded, ill, and injured (WII) in accordance with the authority in Reference (b) and DoDI 1300.24 ...

  • Identification #: DoD Instruction 6025.20
  • Type: Instruction
Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 6 - June 2013

.PDF | 528.04 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Incident diagnoses of common symptoms ("sequelae") following traumatic brain injury, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2012; Outbreak of Group A beta hemolytic Streptococcus pharyngitis in a Peruvian ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 12 - December 2013

.PDF | 548.34 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Bacterial skin infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2012; Pilonidal cysts, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2012; Puumala hantavirus outbreak among U.S. military health care ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 5 - May 2013

.PDF | 474.96 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Editorial: Can the active component U.S. military achieve tuberculosis elimination?; Tuberculosis trends in the U.S. Armed Forces, active component, 1998-2012; Using the tuberculosis cohort review to evaluate ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 3 - March 2013

.PDF | 544.63 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Challenges in monitoring and maintaining the health of pilots engaged in telewarfare; External causes of traumatic brain injury, 2000-2011; Mental health diagnoses and counseling among pilots of remotely ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 8 - August 2013

.PDF | 584.36 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Septicemia diagnosed during hospitalizations, active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2012; Active surveillance for asymptomatic colonization with multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacilli ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 10 - October 2013

.PDF | 469.53 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Anxiety disorders, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2012; Gastrointestinal infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2002-2012; Surveillance snapshot: influenza immunization among healthcare ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 2 - February 2013

.PDF | 802.92 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Predictive value of reportable medical events for Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis; The changing landscape of controlling sexually transmitted infections in the U.S. Military; Sexually ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 1 - January 2013

.PDF | 570.93 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012; Confirmed malaria cases among active component U.S. Army personnel, January-September 2012; Editorial: presumptive anti-relapse treatment for malaria in military ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 7 - July 2013

.PDF | 1.24 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Surveillance Snapshot: Anxiety disorders, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2012; Editorial: The mental health of our deploying generation; Summary of mental disorder hospitalizations, active and ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 4 - April 2013

.PDF | 496.91 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Ambulatory visits among members of the active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012; Surveillance Snapshot: illness and injury burdens among U.S. military recruit trainees, 2012; Hospitalizations among members of ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 9 - September 2013

.PDF | 496.08 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Menorrhagia, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2012; Pelvic inflammatory disease among female recruit trainees, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2002-2012; Depression and suicidality ...

Report
Jan 1, 2013

MSMR Vol. 20 No. 11 - November 2013

.PDF | 399.70 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Syncope among U.S. Air Force Basic Military Trainees, August 2012-July 2013; Syncope, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2012; Update: motor vehicle-related deaths, active and reserve ...

Skip subpage navigation
Refine your search
Last Updated: September 28, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery