Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

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. Click to open a larger version of the image. 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.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care | Warrior Care – A Virtual Show of Strength | Psychological Fitness

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 Veterans Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 and press 1.

You also may be interested in...

39 MDG beta tests AFMS first blended TCCC and Medic-X curriculum

Article Around MHS
5/20/2022
Military medical personnel performing safety exercise

The Air Force Medical Service tasked the 39th Medical Group to test the service’s first blended curriculum, enhancing the readiness and skills of medical personnel, Soldiers, and NATO allies at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, April 20-24, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Expeditionary Medical Integration Course: Unified in keeping Marines in the fight

Article Around MHS
5/12/2022
Military personnel in medical training

I Marine Expeditionary Force's Expeditionary Operations Training Group on Camp Pendleton developed the Expeditionary Medical Integration Course to prepare Marines and line corpsmen for future deployments.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Navy Hospital Ship Departs for Pacific Partnership 2022

Article Around MHS
5/9/2022
Navy Hospital Ship Departs

Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) departed San Diego, May 3, marking the beginning of Pacific Partnership 2022 (PP22).

Recommended Content:

Readiness Capabilities | Health Readiness

Fort Riley Summit Tackles Mental Healthcare Shortage

Article Around MHS
5/6/2022
Soldier speaks at podium

Dozen of civilian partners within the local TRICARE network recently collaborated with Fort Riley leadership for an all-day, first-time ever Mental Health Summit April 28. 

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness

JBLM Soldiers Start Preparing for Warrior Games With Hard Training

Article Around MHS
4/19/2022
Military personnel training for Army Trials and DoD Warrior Games

The DoD Warrior Games 2022 may be months away, but the Soldiers of Task Force Phoenix at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in Tacoma, Washington already are deep into an intense training regimen in the hopes of securing some shiny hardware this August in Texas.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Niger, U.S. doctors treat 550 patients in Ouallam

Article Around MHS
4/15/2022
Military training

 Nigerien and U.S. doctors alongside U.S. joint service medical specialists established a temporary field clinic to provide medical treatment to citizens of Ouallam and the surrounding areas as a part of a medical civic action program (MEDCAP) in Ouallam, Niger, March 16, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Policy Update: Significant Improvements to Mental and Behavioral Health Policies

Article Around MHS
4/4/2022
A U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter flies over the sunset off the northern coast of Haiti in Nov. 2021

New updates to Coast Guard policy loosen restrictions and impacts on service members undergoing mental and behavioral health treatment for conditions including (but not limited to) anxiety and depressive disorders.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness

Talking Seasonal Affective Disorder

Article Around MHS
1/4/2022
Military personnel staring out of the window

Holiday blues, seasonal depression, and other terms have been used to describe what is now known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and more often than not, many factors play a role on an individual’s ability to be affected by this disorder each year around the holidays.

Recommended Content:

Depression | Psychological Fitness

People First priority for BJACH Behavioral Health Suicide Prevention Program

Article Around MHS
12/1/2021
Chuck Satterfield and Staff Sgt. Lori Fury hosting a training

Behavioral health professionals from Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital conducted leadership development training with the 519th Military Police Battalion at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana in mid-November.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Suicide Prevention

Healing Is An Art, Art is Healing: Exhibit Highlights the Healing Power of Art

Article Around MHS
11/10/2021
Service members look at art included in the Healing Arts Exhibit on display throughout November at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Healing is an art, and art is healing was the sentiments shared among those who attended the opening ceremony for the 18th Annual Healing Arts Exhibit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Oct. 27.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness

Expeditionary Medical Force Brings Optimal Readiness in Pacific Region

Article Around MHS
10/18/2021
A male soldier talks about a chart to to a female sailor.

The 121st Field Hospital of the 549th Hospital Center recently introduced an innovative way to increase medical Soldiers’ proficiency and competency by enhancing access to the field hospital equipment.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support

Health Promotion duo optimizes health on Incirlik Air Base

Article Around MHS
9/30/2021
Air Force Capt. Sydney Sloan, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion element chief (right), and Air Force Senior Airman Gloriann Manapsal, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion technician (left), promote making healthy choices at the Sultan’s Inn Dining Facility on Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

The 39th Operation Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion team provides and integrates evidence-based programs to optimize the health and readiness, even during these unprecedented times.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus
Showing results 1 - 12 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.