Category Archives: Five Core Leader Functions

What’s Next? Navigating Transitions, Pt. 3

“Everyone loves inspiring beginnings and happy endings; it is just the middles that involve hard work.” —Rosabeth Moss Kanter, author and Harvard professor

Click the image to view Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center’s “In Transition” poster series (scroll down to “Posters”).

Whether you’re anxiously awaiting new responsibilities as you advance to the next pay grade or preparing to be away from your family during an upcoming deployment, feeling like you are stuck in the midst of transition can be difficult… even for the most squared-away Sailors. Fear and doubt can manifest in a variety of ways, preoccupying our thoughts and eventually impacting our daily lives and decision making. You can navigate these feelings using the Principles of Resilience, specifically exercising trust in yourself, your shipmates, and your family.

Trust is built through experience, shapes our perspectives and influences our personal actions and expectations. While sometimes the unknowns of a transition are motivating, it can also be a discouragement if fear is generated from self-doubt. Trust yourself, and believe that you can successfully navigate unfamiliar situations by acknowledging your apprehensions, fears, and even the things that you’re less confident about—and turn them into opportunities to build resilience. Through the principle of Controllability, by doing your best to work toward viable, positive solutions, you can regain self-trust and strengthen your ability to trust others.

Trust not only encompasses personal integrity, dependability, and competence, but implores those characteristics from your leaders, peers, and family, too. Trust that others will recognize the support and resources you need to be successful throughout your transitions, and trust that you can allow yourself to feel comfortable communicating your apprehensions or feelings to your shipmates and family. This can help refocus perspectives and gain a greater sense of control, but most importantly, it reminds us that we are not alone.

Like any component of Operational Stress Control, fostering trust is a shared responsibility. While we can take steps to trust ourselves as individuals and be more trusting of others, leaders must help generate a climate that reinforces organizational trust. Leaders: reach out and connect with your Sailors, both inside and out of the work center, to build and foster trust. Step back for a few moments to observe and gain a better understanding of what you can do to help Sailors better navigate stress and thrive in their environments. As members of the Navy community, we can all take an active role to support every Sailor, every day, through the small changes or big transitions. We are all in this together.

Meet the Trainers!

Over the past few months, OPNAV N171 has fielded a number of questions abouttraining the recent Operational Stress Control (OSC) training mandate for deploying units and gathered great, tangible feedback. As we make our way around the fleet and to your command, we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce our OSC trainers and answer some of the commonly asked questions.

What is OSC training? Is it new?

Since 2009, stress training has focused on assisting Navy leaders in identifying and applying practical stress navigation tools. Two courses are offered: Navy OSC for Leaders (NAVOSC-Lead) and Deckplate Leader OSC (DPL-OSC). NAV-OSC Lead was designed by warfighters with warfighters in mind, assisting them in assessing individual and unit stress responses while providing tools to help their Sailors better navigate operational stress. While NAVOSC-Lead is targeted for E7 and above, DPL-OSC mirrors this dialogue-led interactive course for mid-level supervisors E4- E6. These courses are a vital part of any command’s efforts to foster a supportive climate, whether preparing for deployment or trying to strengthen readiness and cohesion. As of March 2014, NAVOSC-Lead has been delivered approximately 350 times to 9,000 Sailors, and DPL-OSC has been taught about 320 times to 12,000 Sailors.

How is OSC training delivered?

Both courses are delivered in-person by our Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) at no cost to your command. There are two teams, one based in Norfolk, Va. And the other in San Diego, and each team is comprised of nine individuals. Most of the trainers are Master Training Specialists. The team is mainly comprised of retired military, representing a mix of warfare communities and services, including a retired Army drill sergeant who also happens to be a Navy spouse. The former ranks of these trainers include everything from junior enlisted to chief petty officer.  Combined, the MTTs have a total of 405 years of military experience!

Where is the training held?

Our MTTs know first-hand the stress of being in the Navy and are flexible with operational demands. MTTs travel to you, whether underway or ashore, CONUS or OCONUS, and can work within available training spaces.

How long will training take?

For a unit of 350 Sailors, with proper space and 4-6 MTTs available, training can be completed within 1-2 days. Each course is designed to take about 3-4 hours, with class sizes maxing out at 35 for NAVOSC-Lead and 50 for DPL- OSC.

How should my unit prepare for the training?

The best preparation for OSC training is to attend with an open mind. The training centers around frank discussion among attendees. When leaders talk about what they see as stress-related issues and how course tools could be applied in their commands, OSC becomes more than a concept – it becomes a way of doing business every day. For more information, see the OSC MTT fact sheet. 

How do you schedule training?

MTTs will prioritize scheduling OSC training with all deploying commands to meet the six-month objective mandated in NAVADMIN 262/13.  Commands are then responsible for documenting completion of training in the Fleet Training Management and Planning System (FLTMPS) prior to deployment.

For specific questions, or to schedule OSC training at your command, you can reach our MTTs as follows:

MTT West at (619) 556-6640, or via email at

MTT East at (757) 445-7353, or via email at

Last, and certainly not least, we are excited to announce that we have begun to launch our OSC web site! As we continue to populate the site with static, program-specific information, such as the history of OSC, the Principles of Resilience, Five Core Leader Functions, etc., we will continue to use this blog to provide you with the tools and resources to apply OSC skills to thrive, not just survive, in both your Navy career and personal lives.

Navy Leader’s Guide Now Available In Smartphone Application

Engaged leadership is essential to building a supportive command climate. It’s not always easy to recognize distress signals or to determine the best way to reach out to a Sailor who may be having trouble navigating life’s changes. As we continue our focus on transitions, leaders at all levels should become familiar with the practical tips and resources provided in the Navy Leader’s Guide for Managing Sailors in Distress—now available as a smart phone application. The “Personnel & Family” section includes beneficial information and recommendations to help you support Sailors in various life and career transitions.
– note

 The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) recently launchedLeader Guide a smart phone application for the Navy Leader’s Guide, an online handbook to help Navy leaders recognize and assist Sailors displaying distressed behaviors.

NMCPHC developed the original online version of the Navy Leader’s Guide for Managing Sailors in Distress and partnered with the Defense Department’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) to develop the mobile app edition. The Navy Leader’s Guide is primarily used by Sailors in supervisory roles to help them identify Sailors who may be showing signs of being in distress. It also provides information on operational stress control, suicide prevention, mental health, medical issues, and common problems that junior Sailors face along with supportive interventions, resources and strategies, as well as official guidance leaders need when they are assisting a distressed Sailor.

“As psychological and emotional well-being is a key component of operational and mission readiness, NMCPHC realized there was a need for Navy leaders to have access to this important resource from wherever they were regardless of computer availability,” said Cmdr. Connie Scott, NMCPHC Health Promotion and Wellness Department Head. “NMCPHC saw the reach and portability of mobile technology and apps as the answer they were looking for and have spent the last year working with T2 to make their vision a reality.”

According to Dr. Mark Long, NMCPHC Public Health educator, the app contains resources available in the online version in a format optimized for mobile devices, allowing leaders to take it with them anywhere they go – deployments, training missions, or as a quick resource while on the go in port.

The Navy Leader’s Guide app is now available for download on iTunes and Google Play and can also be accessed from both the NMCPHC and T2 websites.

NavyNavStress would like to thank our partners at Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center’s Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) Department for submitting this guest blog to keep our audiences informed. For more HPW resources, visit

Treat – Knowing When and Where to Go for Help

This blog post is part of the OSC Five Core Leader Functions series that features several guest bloggers.

Of the five core leader functionsstrengthen, mitigate, identify, treat and reintegrate—the most problematic for many leaders is the “treat” part.  They certainly are given enough training in identifying symptoms, but they often have a tough time with their portion of the “treat” part.  After all, that’s medical’s job.

I am known for taking a few trips down metaphor lane from time to time when talking about stress. So, perhaps a metaphor might help in understanding the leader’s role in their Sailor’s treatment.

We will have achieved our goal of reducing stigma when depression or PTSD is viewed like a knee injury.  If you were to see one of your Sailors limping along on a bad knee, you wouldn’t ignore it.  You’d probably ask about it and ensure they were seen by medical.  You’d also ensure that your Sailor was on track with their treatment to get back to full duty.

There are two key things the leaders do.  First, they are aware of what is going on with their subordinates and, second, they support them in their treatment.  The knee injury is kind of easy because it is visible.  The stress injury can be more difficult.  Being aware of what is going on with your people takes a little more effort. First you have to get to know them, earn their trust and then develop the ability to pick up on subtle signs and behaviors.  This is where the stress continuum can help.  It gives you some categories and a list of behaviors as a sort of cheat sheet to check yourself.  If you think someone needs help, support their effort to find the right help and make sure they stick to a treatment program. It’s not easy to find the balance between respecting privacy and knowing when to intervene, but the extra effort will be worth it.

It doesn’t matter whether your people are hurting physically or mentally.  When they are hurt, we need to be able to pick up on it and then make sure they get the help they need.  You don’t have to be the therapist, but you just have to make sure they are able to get to the one they need.


Captain Hammer is the director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. Prior to being the director of DCoE, Capt. Hammer served as the director of the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control at the Naval Medical Center (also known as NCCOSC), San Diego, California. Captain Hammer has personally trained thousands of service members in operational stress control, psychological health and traumatic brain injury topics.

Related posts:
Now I Have OSC – What Do I Do With It?
OSC’s Five Core Leader Functions
Conversation with a Cruiser CO: Practical Ways to Mitigate Stress
Success at Sea

Success At Sea

This blog post is part of the OSC Five Core Leader Functions series that will feature several guest bloggers.

by Rob Gerardi, Instructional Designer/Outreach Speaker, Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control

The best command I ever served aboard was the USS HIGGINS (DDG-76). After the 9/11 attacks the OPTEMPO and requirements for all ships increased immensely and ours was no exception.  We experienced our share of operational stress and observed its affects. However, our Sailors persevered and the HIGGINS earned multiple major awards.

The secret to our success was truly no secret–unit cohesion and quality leadership. The ship’s tight knit atmosphere encouraged us to know each other on professional and personal levels so we could be aware of and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. As a result, when there were signs of distress, or changes in behavior or functioning, timely interventions prevented small problems from becoming big ones.

Equally important to our success was our senior leadership’s monitoring of our command’s stress level. While we pushed ourselves to achieve mission, we also identified the stress zones in which individuals were operating moment to moment – and watched for the stressors that presented the greatest challenges. Keeping an eye on both our workloads and our shipmates allowed us to anticipate when the wear and tear would become too much.

However, it’s not enough to identify when someone is having trouble navigating stress, we have to act. Don’t let stigma be a barrier to admitting to your own or someone else’s stress problems.  On HIGGINS, we continually looked out for each other and ensured that everyone who needed help got it. Still today, many of us commonly engage each other and reminisce on how great that command was.

So, know the stress continuum, identify when you or your shipmates are in the yellow “reacting” zone, before you or they become “injured.”   Then have the courage to ask for help, or engage and help out a Shipmate. At the end of the day the most important thing you have is the pride of your mission and the respect and admiration for the Sailors and Marines serving by your side.

YouTube video – Navy OSC – Identify

About the Blogger:

Retired Master Chief Petty Officer Gerardi enlisted in the United States Navy on September 16, 1985. He has served as an Independent Duty Corpsman; Program Director, Independent Duty Corpsman School; Command Master Chief for the Naval School Health Sciences; and as the Commander Naval Surface Forces, Force Medical Master Chief. He retired January 2009, and works for the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control, promoting the psychological health of Sailors, Marines and their families.

Related posts:

Conversations with a Cruiser CO – Practical Ways to Mitigate Stress

OSC’s Five Core Leader Functions

Now I  Have OSC – What Do I Do With It?