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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Navy Corpsmen deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq are getting some graphic advice about the hazards and psychological stress they will experience with a graphical novel from scientists at

“The Docs” is now available for download and 5,000 copies were printed so Navy medical personnel can absorb a 200-page illustrated tale about the blood, violence, psychological and social pressures they might encounter when their boots hit the ground.

Shari Lambert of RTI illustrated “The Docs” – often in gripping reality.

The Navy also is creating an animated version for use on PCs and portable devices, according to RTI spokesperson Patrick Gibbons. “It’s even more appealing as a video,” Gibbons told Local Tech Wire and

RTI and the Naval Health Research Center, which funded the project, have worked together on multiple projects in the past, including research into post-traumatic stress disorders and stress reduction.

“The Docs” tells the story of four fictional Corpsmen deployed to Iraq and what they experience, from deaths to saving lives, ambushes and roadside bombs. These medically trained sailors are boots on the ground alongside Marines in combat, and stress is often as part of a day’s experience as danger. “The Docs” is designed to help them be prepared, Gibbons said.

While suicides in the armed forces among deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines is a significant challenge for the armed forces, Gibbons said “The Docs” has a different mission.

“The focus is not suicide prevention,” he said. “It is very specifically designed to prepare Corpsmen and get them thinking about what they will hear and feel.

“They have to think all the time, they have to make decisions in situations that are very unclear. Is a child a threat or not a threat? Is there a bomb or not a bomb?”

In several panels, “The Docs” portray attacks on Marines and the results – ghastly wounds, even death. Dealing with all the stress combat produces is something “The Docs” targets.

“This novel serves as a discussion tool for lessening the stigma associated with combat stress,” said Jerry Larson, chief scientist for behavioral health at the Naval Health Research Center.

Laurel Hourani, a senior research epidemiologist at RTI and the director of the project, said she hopes “The Docs” provides “an important and unique educational tool that will help our troops who are facing challenging and difficult circumstances during their deployments.”

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