Disaster Psychiatry Emerges as DOD Field of Study ~Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service

Posted on January 18, 2014 By

At the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, experts in the emotional toll of disasters help the Defense Department, government agencies and first responders worldwide understand how best to help communities struck by terrorist attacks, mass casualties and natural disasters.

The center is part of the psychiatry department at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. The USUHS serves the Army, Navy, Air Force and U.S. Public Health Service by educating health professionals for DOD and USPHS career service.

“The center was established essentially to address concerns by the Department of Defense about psychological impacts and health consequences that might result from the potential use of weapons of mass destruction during combat [and] acts of terrorism or hostage events,” Dr. Joshua C. Morganstein told American Forces Press Service during a recent interview.

Morganstein, a commander in the Public Health Service, is an assistant professor in the USUHS psychiatry department and a scientist at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress.

“There was growing interest by DOD in the general psychological impact and health consequences resulting from a broad category of traumatic events,” he said, including peacekeeping missions, operations other than war, and natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis. DOD also was interested in more common stress-producing events like physical assaults or boat, plane and car accidents for uniformed and civilian communities, he said. Read more.

** EDS NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT ** The remains of an unidentified victim of Hurricane Katrina is seen decomposing in a wheelchair Sept. 11, 2005, in St. Bernard Parish, La. The hurricane hit the region on August 29 causing numerous deaths and severe property damage. (AP Photo/Mandatory Credit:Christopher Morris/VII). Creation Date 09/11/2005. Submit Date 09/19/2005 11:32:17.

** EDITOR NOTES GRAPHIC CONTENT ** The remains of an unidentified victim of Hurricane Katrina is seen decomposing in a wheelchair Sept. 11, 2005, in St. Bernard Parish, La. The hurricane hit the region on August 29 causing numerous deaths and severe property damage. (AP Photo / Mandatory Credit / Christopher Morris/VII). Creation Date 09/11/2005. Submit Date 09/19/2005 11:32:17.

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