• Today's Daily Devotion
The Importance of Debriefing
One soldier shared this story: We hot-washed everything. Debriefing immediately after an action was a definite force multiplier.

The Importance of Debriefing

Don Richards, Psychologist Counseling Military Veterans

One soldier shared this story:

We hot-washed everything. Debriefing immediately after an action was a definite force multiplier. That meant when we returned from an operation we talked about what happened the good, the bad and the ugly. It was essential that we not lose the value of experiences that we paid for with blood, sweat and a great deal of effort. There was another benefit though; everyone understood what happened more clearly. Those close to people who were wounded weren’t allowed to sulk in personal pity. They realized they did their job and the injury wasn’t due to their actions or inactions. It enabled them to get back up on the horse. Reality was we were going back out tomorrow and our heads had to be in the game, and not replaying yesterday’s events.”

Cognitive rehabilitation is the process of evaluating an event and framing it in a progressively more healthy way. It is one of the primary tools in treating Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS). The reality is the earlier it is done the more profound the ability to deal with traumatic events. Units that advocate early debriefing with an emphasis on cognitive rehabilitation will see fewer PTSS casualties.

Early debriefing does appear to change the impact of traumatic events. I have seen this and try to incorporate it not only among my military experience but in the emergency department. If something bad happens it is very worthwhile to take my nurses and techs involved and let them know that they did everything right and they weren’t responsible for something bad happening.

I would have to say that from my experience that early debriefing is the most valuable tool in preventing damage from traumatic events. I don’t have the luxury of being with them immediately after an event. If early debriefing was done effectively I wouldn’t be unraveling significant psychological issues and trying to break down defensive postures my patients have established over the years. Perhaps I would only be focusing on more practical issues of adjustment. If debriefing was done well it would diffuse a great deal of distress and issues involved in posttraumatic stress syndrome.


Dear Lord, please help those in combat situations today to receive the early debriefing they need. Please protect them from PTSS.

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