An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | May 29, 2020

Medical Specialists Outline How to Deal With COVID-19 Stress

By Terri Moon Cronk DOD NEWS

WASHINGTON -- Handling the symptoms of stress and anxiety begins at home with self-care, a panel of medical experts said during a media roundtable.

The experts speaking in yesterday's session said staying mission-ready while sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic can be difficult for service members, veterans, civilians and their families.

The panelists were Dr. Nicholas Polizzi, action officer for the inTransition Program and the Real Warriors Campaign, Psychological Health Center of Excellence; Dr. Holly O'Reilly, clinical psychologist with the Defense Health Agency; Army Col. (Dr.) David Benedek, chief of psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; and Dr. Stephen Cozza, associate director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the USUHS.

"Aside from worrying about the cost of contracting the virus, we worry about the many ways it impacts our lives and for how long," O'Reilly said.

The Defense Department has a number of programs and resources that are available to service members and families — such as the Real Warriors Campaign, which encourages service members and veterans to ask for help, she suggested.

As far as the long-term impact on those on the front lines of health care are concerned, there are measures that all people can take to promote resilience and promote a healthier response to the challenges they're confronting, Benedek said.

"Self-care measures include paying attention to getting good sleep, maintaining good nutritional and hydration habits and devoting time to exercise," he added.

Benedek stressed the things that people can do to promote general physical health and promote mental health. "It's important to try to maintain mental activity. … Exercising mental alertness is important to health," he said.

He echoed Cozza's words about the importance of maintaining social connectivity and social connectedness despite physical distancing, such as staying in touch with family and friends to talk honestly about fears and worries.

Benedek said it's also critical to share in family experiences and positive and happy things to maintain health and mental health.

Polizzi encouraged people to look into evidence-based, self-guided interventions such as the Real Warriors Campaign, noting Real Warriors offers a wide variety of online mental health resources.

Cozza said it's also helpful to use what service members have done in battlefield settings: having battle buddies, engaging in mentorship with colleagues and recognizing that you're not alone. Everyone is working on a team, and facing the same challenges in the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

Benedek also suggested taking long breaks and engaging in short stress-reduction techniques, including using simple breathing techniques, meditation and mindfulness.

"One of the things we also need to remember is children's responses to [COVID-19] are likely to reflect the responses of their parents," Benedek noted. He said adults should model calmness in the home — even when they are dealing with something difficult.

"It's [about] supporting family structure, so ensure that you maintain routines in ways that give people a sense of consistency, regularity and predictability in their lives. That can be very helpful for both adults and children," he said.



Gobi Wolf 2024 strengthens partnerships for disaster resilience
U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Frankie Bolaños, left, lowers himself on the line to simulate the rescue of Tech Sgt. Daniel Kolk, both fire contingency instructors with the Pacific Air Force, while demonstrating high-angle rescue techniques during the Field Training Exercise at Gobi Wolf 2024 in Choibalsan, Mongolia, May 9. The teams showcased best practices in safely extracting trapped individuals from precarious situations. Gobi Wolf 24 is part of the Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange program, which focuses on interagency coordination and foreign humanitarian assistance and is coordinated by the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Army Pacific. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Balinda O’Neal)
May 20, 2024 - Exercise Gobi Wolf 2024 culminated with resounding success during a closing ceremony held in Choibalsan, Mongolia, May 10, marking another significant stride in disaster preparedness and global collaboration...

DoD Representatives Meet with Residents of Palau; Discuss Proposed Designation of Defense Site in Peleliu
PELELIU, Republic of Palau (May 16, 2024) – Department of Defense representatives and engineers meet with Peleliu Gov. Emais Roberts ahead of the first of three engagements with Peleliu residents and landowners, May 13.

About 200 residents attended the meetings which were held to discuss the proposed designation of a new defense site in Peleliu. (U.S. Navy photo by Shaina O’Neal)
May 17, 2024 - A team of engineers and representatives of the Department of Defense (DoD) met with government leaders and residents of the Republic of Palau to discuss the proposed designation of a new defense site in Peleliu, May 13 and...

US Army EOD Group strengthens ROK-US Alliance during meeting on Fort Carson
A U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group recently helped to strengthen EOD interoperability with the Republic of Korea Army. Capt. Paul Sohn (second from right), the future operations officer for the U.S. Army 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), served as the action officer and translator for a visit by the ROK Army Logistics Command to the headquarters of the 71st EOD Group on Fort Carson, Colorado.  Courtesy photo.
May 17, 2024 - A U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group helped to strengthen EOD interoperability with the Republic of Korea Army...

USINDOPACOM Statement on DPRK Missile Launches
May 17, 2024 - We are aware of the ballistic missile launches and are consulting closely with our allies and partners. While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our...

Readout of Assistant Secretary Ratner's Call With PRC Office of International Military Cooperation Director
Graphic intended for use as a placeholder for Statements and Press Releases without accompanying imagery.
May 16, 2024 - Dr. Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, spoke by video teleconference today with People's Republic of China (PRC) Major General Li Bin, Director of the Central Military Commission...