Our society required and will continue to need our military personnel, veterans, first responders, and first care receivers to endure prolonged hardships and at times experience repetitive stressful and or traumatic events to preserve our way of life. To perform and recover from within that type of operating/work environment, you must be resilient. Unfortunately, not all of us have the same resilience capabilities to overcome adversity and thrive. Our team at Hoplite have each personally experienced losing friends and Soldiers to combat, witnessed families devastated by loss, and struggled with the toll of serving. Much like our own experiences, we recognize the unrelenting challenges military personnel, veterans, first responders, and first care receivers face day in and day out. It’s our inspiration and reason for why the Hoplite Resilience Center exists.
Hoplites were called upon to safeguard and help their city-states in time of need much like our military personnel; veterans, first responders, and first care receivers help preserve our way of life today. The Greek citizen-soldier Hoplite was a revolution in ancient combat. The Hoplite dominated warfare in classical Greece for over four hundred years (Johnson, 2017). These brave citizen-soldiers fought in the disciplined ranks of a phalanx formation – a solid mass of Soldiers typically eight to ten ranks deep. Each of the Hoplites carried a large round shield into battle. In the Phalanx formation, the design of the shield allowed it to protect the Hoplite – and the warrior to his left – from chin to knees (Morelock, 2017). Regarding a Hoplite's shield, Plutarch, Moralia once wrote that "Men wear their helmets and their breastplates for their own needs, but they carry shields for the men of the entire line."
The Hoplite Resilience Center is driven to make a positive impact in the lives of individuals and their families who have served and may continue to serve. At the Resilience Center, we believe we are stronger together just as the Hoplites were in Phalanx formation. We must aid each other through difficult times in the face of hardship to thrive. Ultimately, we strive to empower our military personnel, veterans, first responders, and first care receivers, and their families by improving resilience and overall well-being.
Today those who serve face profound and difficult challenges. In recent years, mental health needs have become an ever-increasing concern for our veterans, military personnel, first responders, first care receivers, and their families.
- According to the DODSER: Department of Defense Suicide Event Report of 2014, there were 1,080 suicide attempts (245 suicides) among active-duty service members for all armed services in the calendar year 2013.
- According to the January 2014 Veterans Health Administration report, the suicide rate among male and female veterans and military service members exceeds the national rate for the general population. Veterans comprise 20% of national suicides, with approximately 22 veterans dying by suicide every day. Three out of five veterans who died by suicide received a diagnosis as having a mental health condition.
- In 2016, The Badge of Life, a Police Suicide Prevention Program, revealed that nearly 108 law enforcement officers took their own lives. According to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, an estimated 113 firefighters and paramedics took their own lives in 2015 (Abdulai, 2016)
Challenges service members face after deployment (Tanielian, 2017):
2.8 Million service members have deployed
- There are approximately 900,000 sworn officers in the United States. According to some studies –19% of them may have PTSD. Other studies suggest that nearly 34% suffer symptoms associated with PTSD but do not meet the standards for the full diagnosis (Kirschman, 2017).
- More than half of U.S. adults are exposed to a severe stressor at some point during their life (Sledjeski, Speisman, & Dierker, 2008). This number is much higher for occupational groups such as police officers and firefighters (Kaufmann, Rutkow, Spira, & Mojtabai, 2012). Patterson (2001) reported that police officers experience, on average, over three traumatic events for every six months of service.
- Emergency physicians, nurses, and medical technicians all showed high burnout scores... Burnout can be high across all occupational groups in the emergency department (Schooley, Hikmet, Tarcan, 2016).
- Aleandri (2006), has shown that there is a significant relationship that exists between emotional exhaustion and depersonalization in nurses working in an emergency department using the Maslach Burnout Inventory.
- Mark Gillespie and Vidar Melby (2003) in their quantitative and qualitative study on emergency nurse burnout using the Maslach Burnout Inventory conclude that stress and burnout have far-reaching effects both for nurses in their clinical practice and personal lives.
The Need for More Services
Known as a historically fragmented industry behavioral health is ripe for consolidation and expansion (Behavioral.net). The U.S. mental health industry remains highly disjointed and will be expected to remain dynamic over the next decade. There is considerable market space for the Hoplite Resilience Center to exist and provide an enormous impact to help improve the lives of our military personnel, veterans, first responders, first care receivers, and their families.
- Improving access to high-quality care (i.e., treatment supported by scientific evidence) can be cost-effective and improve recovery rates (Tanielian, 2008).
- A study by the RAND Corporation concluded that we must increase and improve the capacity of the mental health care system to deliver evidence-based care. They found that there is a substantial unmet need among returning service members for the care of PTSD and major depression. DoD, the VA, and providers in the civilian sector need greater capacity to provide treatment, which will require new programs to recruit and train more providers throughout the U.S. health care system (Tanielian, 2008).
- The mental health care landscape for service members, veterans, and their families are complex, with persistent challenges. To address these issues private-sector care is assuming a more prominent role. (Tanielian, 2008).
- According to recent data, most Americans still lack access to care. 56% of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment. Even in Maine, the state with the best access, 41.4% of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment (Mental Health America, 2017).
- There is a severe mental health workforce shortage. In states with the lowest workforce, there are up to six times the individuals to only one mental health professional. This includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatric nurses combined (Mental Health America, 2017).
- In a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 first responders, 85 percent reported mental health symptoms. One-third reported clinical diagnoses of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While these numbers loom large, seven out of 10 of those surveyed claimed mental health services are rarely or never utilized by their organization with four out of 10 individuals reporting a concern about repercussions for seeking help at work (NBC 7 San Diego, 2017).
- Stigma and barriers to care are experienced by a significant proportion of first responders, which can potentially lead to a delayed presentation in mental health care and therefore, increased risk of chronicity of post-trauma psychopathology for these groups (Haugen, 2017).