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1st Sgt. Aaron Tippett: Reaching Out for Help: "That's True Strength"

Companies mentioned in this article: Real Warriors Campaign

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recognition of Mental Health Month and Memorial Day, the Real Warriors Campaign (www.realwarriors.net) encourages all service members, veterans and families to seek help for psychological health concerns. Experiencing psychological stress as a result of life transitions, deployment or other long-term separations can be common in military life. Because psychological wounds are often invisible, seeking care early is critical for successful care and positive outcomes.

1st Sgt. Aaron Tippett (http://realwarriors.net/multimedia/profiles/tippett.php) understands firsthand that reaching out for help is a sign of strength that benefits the service member, his/her family, unit and community. Some service members worry that seeking psychological health care or support will negatively affect their careers. However, reaching out for help did not hinder Tippett's advancement in the military and he has since been promoted to first sergeant.

"Being promoted to first sergeant was always a dream, but now it's a dream realized. And I'm so happy that I sought treatment because I know that if I hadn't ... there's no way I'd be a first sergeant right now."

Tippett has been in the Army for 17 years and currently is a chief air assault instructor for the Sabalauksi Air Assault School of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell. As a result of working in route clearance sappers, Tippett experienced multiple mild traumatic brain injuries and was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder. He experienced speech and sleep challenges, dizziness, equilibrium disturbances and constant headaches.

"I'm actually diagnosed with PTSD and multiple cases of mild traumatic brain injury, but I was brought up...to drive on, don't let your soldiers see that anything's wrong."

Tippett initially ignored the symptoms but realized he needed to reach for help not only for himself, but for his family. With the encouragement of his wife, Tonya, a National Guard soldier, he sought help from RESPECT-Mil (http://www.pdhealth.mil/respect-mil/index1.asp), a treatment model designed by the Defense Department's Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC) to screen, assess and treat active-duty soldiers with depression and/or PTSD(1). Tippett began treatment for mild traumatic brain injury in 2005 and continues to communicate with his RESPECT-Mil care facilitator to ensure he's staying on the right track.

After hiding the fact that he was receiving treatment for a year and a half, Tippett is now sharing his story to encourage other warriors who may be hesitant to seek care and show that nothing should be able to set you back.

"It is a stronger thing to do to recognize and seek help than it is to hide from it and shy away from it."

To learn more about Tippett's story (http://realwarriors.net/multimedia/profiles/tippett.php) or to listen to other warriors share their story of reaching out for help with successful outcomes, visit the videos section (http://realwarriors.net/multimedia) of the Real Warriors Campaign website.

If you are experiencing signs of stress (http://realwarriors.net/active/combatstress/overview.php), or may be coping with psychological health concerns, don't wait, seek help now. The Real Warriors Campaign at www.realwarriors.net has tips and resources to help service members, veterans, and military families cope with psychological health concerns. Service members, including members of the National Guard and reserve, veterans and military families can confidentially speak with a trained resource consultant 24/7 through the Real Warriors Live Chat feature (http://realwarriors.net/livechat) or by calling 866-966-1020.

(1) "RESPECT-Mil" (http://www.pdhealth.mil/respect-mil/index1.asp). Last accessed April 17, 2014.

Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g863HDbS3U4

SOURCE Real Warriors Campaign