Professor at AFA conference offers advice about stress

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Professor John Moore spoke at the Air Force Association's 2006 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 25 about ways to combat deployment stress.

Mr. Moore joined other national experts and senior Department of Defense and Air Force leaders at the annual two-day AFA conference. The conference examines aerospace technology, national defense and other issues.

"Feelings of helplessness and worry, new family roles, and extra responsibilities can lead to a deployment wheel of stress," Mr. Moore said. "Sometimes the wheel spins very quickly and sometimes slowly, but the result is the same -- families can be in crisis."

At the conference, he said communication and planning are critical for service members and their families, when coping with long-term deployments and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Mr. Moore is a licensed clinical professional counselor and certified addictions therapist who teaches courses in interpersonal communications and stress at American Military University.

The AMU is a regionally and nationally accredited distance learning institution serving more than 15,000 students worldwide. About 85 percent of university's students serve in the armed forces.

At the conference, Mr. Moore outlined four steps for reducing the stress of long-term deployments:

1. Develop a stress prevention plan

-- Outline ways to maintain communication

-- Let service members set time and dates for regular communication

-- Plan for possible financial strains

2. Establish healthy communications

-- Be honest about issues with children or other family members

-- Convey feelings of support and commitment

-- Avoid old arguments

3. Follow a routine

-- Stay involved with social and religious activities

-- Connect with other military families regularly

-- Set aside a day of the week for family activities

4. Reassess the plan -- and change what isn't working

Mr. Moore also outlined ways for dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, including watching for signs of depression, anxiety or substance abuse.

"Be supportive, but don't try to be their therapist," he said.