Control Center Staff Seeks to Defeat Combat Stress in Iraq

By Army Capt. Stephen C. Short
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq, May 28, 2009 – Fighting a war can be stressful, no matter what job you do in the military. Staff members at combat stress control centers throughout Iraq work to fight stress — or at least to teach people how to manage it.Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Alicia L. Tschirhart, a psychiatrist, commands the Kalsu Combat Stress Control Center. The center is one of three throughout Iraq, each of which serves a number of provinces.  “We are able to see any servicemember that is stationed at Forward Operating Base Kalsu and anyone who needs assistance is sent here to this location,” Tschirhart said. “I have two enlisted personnel here as well that do individual counseling, screen patients and do outreach to the community.”

The Kalsu Combat Stress Control Center staff sees 25 to 30 patients a week with issues ranging from anxiety and depression to marital problems.   “Relationship and sleep issues are the most predominant cases I see,” Tschirhart said. “Problems that arose during deployment or were occurring back in garrison can be related to issues that we work on.”

Confidentiality is important to patients, and coming to the center is voluntary unless a soldier is sent for a command-directed evaluation. Some soldiers worry about a lengthy evaluation or treatment that could cause them problems at work or bring out their personal life to the command, but Tschirhart said they shouldn’t allow these fears to keep them from seeking assistance.


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