Combat and Operational Stress Programs

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Stress experienced by service members due to the emotionally and physically challenging environments they live and work in is often called combat stress and operational stress. Combat and operational stress control is defined as “(DOD) programs developed and actions taken by military leadership to prevent, identify, and manage adverse combat and operational stress reactions in units; optimize mission performance; conserve fighting strength; prevent or minimize adverse effects of combat and operational stress on members' physical, psychological, intellectual and social health; and to return the unit or Service member to duty expeditiously."[1]

Generally, combat and operational stress control (COSC) programs across the DoD aim to:

  1. Prepare the service member (and family) for positive adaptations to stress reactions
  2. Prevent maladaptive reactions to stress and optimize deployment performance
  3. Support leadership in identifying and supporting service members with combat stress
  4. Manage and treat service who experience stress reactions or other mental health concerns

The DoD has established requirements that “support psychological health in military operations and the early detection and management of combat and operational stress reactions (COSR) in order to preserve mission effectiveness and warfighting capabilities and mitigate the adverse physical and psychological consequences of exposure to severe stress” through DoDI 6490.05,Maintenance of Psychological Health in Military Operations, Nov. 22, 2011.

Service-Specific Combat and Operational Stress Control Programs and Guidance

Air Force

Army

Navy and Marines

Coast Guard

References

[1] Joint Education and Doctrine Division, J-7, Joint Staff. (2015). Combat and Operation Stress Control in DoD Dictionary of Military Terms. Last retrieved on May 8, 2015 from http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/dod_dictionary/data/c/10608.html