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   The Issue

Stress comes in all shapes and sizes, and it has become so universal that it seems to affect everything and everybody. Levels of stress—both physical and mental—and the ability to cope with it are different for everyone.

Photograph of Captain Fredrick Hanson

US Army psychiatrist Captain Fredrick Hanson institutionalized forward treatment of combat stress during World War II.

The operational environment of today’s military exposes servicemembers and units to many unforeseen demands. The need to perform under these difficult situations can cause stress reactions. Although stress can have the beneficial effect of sharpening the senses, impelling acts of heroism, and drawing a unit’s members closer together, when a servicemember’s ability to deal with stress is exceeded, the consequences may be operationally significant. Independent of whether these consequences are behavioral or physical manifestations, the net result is a loss of manpower and constrained unit resources. The commander’s management of stress during these military operations is critical to ensuring mission accomplishment, military readiness and health protection.