The officers, chief petty officers and petty officers of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) completed mandatory Operational Stress Control (OSC) training in accordance with NAVADMIN 262/13, Feb. 24-28.
According to the instruction, the course fulfills mandatory requirements for command-level Navy OSC skills training within six months of a scheduled deployment.
"I think the training was worth while. The crew was receptive and appreciated the opportunity to discuss the topic," said Capt. Paul C. Spedero, Peleliu's commanding officer. "I think many of them learned some new aspects about stress, how to control it, how to identify it and how to deal with it. Overall, it was positive."
In support of the Navy's 21st Century Sailor and Marine imitative, leaders must be able to judge an individual's, as well as a unit's, amount of stress and determine the correct actions needed in order to ease the issues prior to them becoming a problem. The OSC program focuses on building resilience and mitigating stress. This training will help provide Sailors the necessary skills to maintain effective warfighting and readiness.
"As senior leaders with more experience, we tend to be less prone to identifying stress," said Spedero. "We've seen a lot of challenging situations throughout our careers and were able to continue to push forward. And sometime we do it as a detriment to our Sailors because we'll push them too hard. This gave us an opportunity to step back and remind ourselves about the different stress levels and some of the signs to look for. We had the chance to talk about the different elements that cause stress in someone's life and about the control measures and how we get back to a balance so that we can be effective."
The course didn't just focus on stressors in the workplace, it also taught Sailors how to deal with stress in their personal lives.
"I have my first child, a baby boy, that's due two weeks after deployment, so there's more than a little personal frustration in the deployment schedule that carries over into the work day," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Matthew Stewart. "I think I'm handling it well, but you would have to ask the guys in my shop for a better evaluation on that. I find that working out all the plans for bringing him into the world and doing what I need to get done to take care of him and my wife while I'm gone is helping to alleviate that stress."
The course also touched on the amount of suicide and suicide attempts in the Navy. Between calendar year 2001 and 2013 there were 580 suicides among active-duty Sailors. That averages to roughly 48 per year.
"The causal factor of suicide is the individual and the individual's inability to cope with what's going on in their life," said Spedero. "So, they come to what they believe to be a rational solution, to end their life. I think that in this training when we talk about resiliency, dealing with stress, communication and the resources that are available, all of these things are ways to help prevent suicide."
Each person has their own methods of coping with their stress.
"I'm a big gamer so an hour or two helps me get rid of my everyday stress," said Stewart. "For high stress days, four or more miles on the track takes my mind off of what's bothering me and lets me focus on putting away those miles."
Members of the Navy's OSC Mobile Training Team West, which is comprised of three teams with three master training specialists each, conducted the training.
"There's only so much engaging one can do with a primarily unresponsive audience, but they did admirably in trying to illicit class participation," said Stewart. "They knew their material and what they were doing; for 'mandatory training,' they did their job well. The key thing I took from them is to make solutions rather than just letting the problems overwhelm you; you have to start swimming at some point or you'll just drown."
The officers and crew of the Peleliu received the training in preparation for upcoming operations.