MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. --
Developed aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow during 2005 at the request of retired Maj. Gen. Eugene Payne— who at the time was the Commanding General of Marine Corps Logistics Command, Albany, Ga.— the Warrior Strengthening Program is a unique tool service members can utilize to battle Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and/or combat stress.
“General Payne requested for us to come up with some method to help his Marines who were dealing with PTSD,” said Marine and Family Services Director William Boxx. “He wanted us to apply what we were doing so well here at Barstow to his Marines who were affected by it.”
According to the Los Angeles native and Master Practitioner of neuro-linguistic psychotherapy, what makes the program so distinctive is its approach to treating the combat-related conditions.
“What we do is provide an educational background for warriors to resolve their own PTSD or combat stress, whether diagnosed or otherwise,” Boxx remarked. “We empower them by giving them an understanding of the problem and the tools they need for self treatment, whereas, other programs take longer because they rely on the professionals to establish rapport, access and diagnose the problem, create a treatment plan, conduct psychotherapy and close the case.”
David A. Nieman, Ph.D., clinical supervisor, M&FS, added that the program is broken down into five components, including education, pre- and post-deployment testing, complex trauma resolution training, follow-up and research.
“Things such as combat fatigue and being wounded are some of the physical factors contributing to combat stress, while family and work-related stress are psychological factors,” said the Gulfport, Miss., native. “During the Education portion of our treatment, warriors learn about the different types of stressors that can make someone vulnerable to PTSD.”
The WSP is a weeklong training course that is 40 hours in duration and is broken down into approximately eight hours of classroom time each day and is open to all military branches, both officer and enlisted, said Staff Sgt. Arturo Padilla, Staff Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, M&FS.
“Upon completion of the program, we offer participants the opportunity to complete follow-ups at 30-day, 6 month and one year intervals,” added the Chicago native. “This follow up includes family member ratings of the Warrior, if they desire.
Boxx mentioned that although the program is not officially funded or sanctioned by Headquarters Marine Corps, it has received favorable reviews from not only those who have taken part in the WSP, but the current Commandant of the Marine Corps as well.
“General (James F.) Amos visited here in 2010 and he and his wife thought the program was great,” he said.
With the exceptional results the program has yielded in its more than five years of existence, Nieman anticipates further success in the future and takes great satisfaction in assisting service members in prevailing over PTSD and combat stress.
“The thing about the Warrior Strengthening Program is that it works,” he said. The thing I love about working with warriors is that if you give them the information they need, they can apply it years later— it’s just like assembling an M-16; you never forget how it is done.
“We currently have about a 77 percent success rate of warriors symptom-free of PTSD after attending the program and we’re moving towards the 80 percent mark,” he continued. “It’s great to see people walk away with the tools they need to deal with combat stress and resolve their issues.”
For more information about the Warrior Strengthening Program, contact Angelica Mora, administrative assistant, Mr. Boxx or Dr. Nieman at (760) 577-6533.