28th Medical Group Mental Health Clinic

Life in the military can be stressful for anyone from a pipeline Airman to a general officer. Fortunately, the 28th Medical Group Mental Health Clinic provides services for Airmen in need.

“Our primary mission is to return Airmen to their jobs and back into the fight,” said Airman 1st Class Bradley Borytsky, a 28th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician. “We want to make sure that [Airmen] are functioning at full capacity and handle whatever life throws at them with healthy coping mechanisms.”

The 28th Bomb Wing has begun teams to help build a support network between Airmen and the chaplain team and mental health clinic.

“One of the things we have recently started is implementing human performance teams in collaboration with the chaplains and other helping agencies,” said Capt. Timothy Naill, 28th Medical Group Family Advocacy Officer. “We want to build relationships with Airmen in their units…it’s really getting people to see that we are on their team.”

May has been National Mental Health Month since 1949, bringing awareness and educating the public about mental illness. In the military, there are misconceptions of what the mental health clinic does.

“First off, people think [getting help for mental illness] will ruin their career,” said Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Garrison, 28th MDOS noncommissioned officer in charge of the mental health clinic. “They think they have no privacy because their commanders and first sergeants are privy to their information. That isn’t true.”

Garrison explained that although commanders and first sergeants are given limited information when it relates to harm to self, harm to others or mission impact, generally, what Airmen disclose to their provider and the specific details they have are not given to their commanders.

Naill elaborated on how the misconception of going to mental health will ruin a career is wrong. He explained that the earlier someone gets help, the more manageable their situation will be. Airmen need to know there is support out there to help cope with whatever is happening in their lives.

“We come from a variety of different backgrounds,” Naill said. “We all have different upbringings. The mental health clinic teaches skills that someone may not have learned at other times in their lives.”

These skills improve the overall well-being of an Airman’s mental state, one portion of being ready to win the fight. A general outline of an Airman’s health falls into the categories of Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

This model includes pillars that represent the physical, spiritual, social and mental portions of one’s readiness. The health of each of these pillars have a tremendous impact on how an Airman performs.

“How someone explained mental health to me was by comparing it to spraining an ankle,” Borytsky said. “When you’re running and sprain your ankle, people don’t expect you to be ready to run a mile-and-a-half. Your mental health is the same. You shouldn’t be expected to be at your best after something traumatic happens.”

Getting mental health care is important as demonstrated by Kevin Hines, one of 36 people to survive a suicide attempt by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California. Mr. Hines was invited by the base community action team to help bring awareness of avenues for Airmen to find support at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

“If you are out there in the military, and you are hiding and silencing your pain, I need you to do yourself a favor and tell your truth to someone who can help,” Hines explained.

He described how getting help is a daily occurrence and how important it is to have people who support you and empathize with any situation happening.

Getting help may have a stigma associated within the Air Force. The 2018 theme being promoted for National Mental Health Month is “#CureStigma.” Stigmas tend to create an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“The stigma is starting to fade,” Garrison said. “In the more recent years, we have seen a tremendous amount of people starting to visit. That’s always a good sign.”

Garrison added that in April, the mental health clinic saw more than 700 patients. This care gives way for more Airmen being able to return to the 28th Bomb Wing fully ready to provide Airpower – Anytime, Anywhere!

For more information on mental health awareness, contact the chapel at (605) 385-1598 or the base mental health clinic at (605) 385-3656.

Story by Airman 1st Class Nicolas Erwin
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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Brooke Army Medical Center


Story by Lori Newman
Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

By Lori Newman
Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – Brooke Army Medical Center offers a full array of behavioral health services to active duty military members and TRICARE beneficiaries through multiple clinics and specialties.

“Our behavioral health services are pretty extensive and customized to the different patient populations we see here,” said Army Maj. Lonnie Bradford, chief of BAMC outpatient clinic.

Services range from child and adolescent care, clinical health, multi-disciplinary behavioral health services, clinical psychology, neuropsychology, inpatient services and a residential treatment program for substance abuse.

Access to Care

Behavioral health services are embedded within all the primary care clinics in BAMC as well as the outlying clinics. Primary care providers work hand-in-hand with behavioral health providers to make sure patients obtain behavioral health referrals quickly to ensure patients have access to the care they need.

“We try to be in every clinic at every location to be able to offer services quickly and easily and take down as many barriers people may have by making behavioral health care accessible,” Bradford said.

BAMC has two Multi-Disciplinary Behavioral Health clinics for service members who need behavioral health care. BAMC Multi-Disciplinary clinic will relocate to 7E on April 20. The other clinic is on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston at 4178 Petroleum Drive, Building 3528R, near the RV Park. Both clinics offer walk-in appointments for military personnel from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Students who are enrolled in the Army Medical Department Center and School, and Medical Education and Training Campus programs can utilize Campus Behavioral Health Services in the CPT Jennifer M. Moreno Primary Care Clinic on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. The clinic hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We have tailored our services and created a program within our clinics to grant immediate access to care for our most vulnerable patient population, our service members,” said Army Maj. David Keller, chief of Multi-Disciplinary Outpatient Clinic.

“Service members who feel they need immediate behavioral health support can walk-in to these clinics during normal hours of operation,” Bradford said. “The vast majority of the patients we see are self-referral. They can either call for an appointment or just walk into the clinic.”

The Intensive Outpatient Behavioral Health Program also located in the Moreno Clinic provides services for active duty personnel who need a higher level of care than traditional outpatient therapy. The program helps service members address anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts.

The Child and Family Behavioral Health Service at BAMC provides individual, family, group and medication therapy for children up to 18 years old, as well as family members.

BAMC also offers inpatient behavioral health services and an inpatient residential treatment program.

Bradford is one of two board-certified neuropsychologists within the Army. Neuropsychology services are available by consult from a referring medical provider.

Clinical Neuropsychology is a specialty in professional psychology that applies principles of assessment and intervention based upon the scientific study of human behavior as it relates to normal and abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. Clinical neuropsychologists address neurobehavioral problems related to acquired or developmental disorders of the nervous system such as dementia, vascular disorders, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, traumatic brain injury, seizure disorders and learning disabilities.

“Patients can also come into the emergency department if they feel they are unsafe at any time. The BAMC ED is staffed 24/7 with a behavioral health consultant,” Bradford said.

Benefits of Military Care

Both Bradford and Keller agree that seeking behavioral health services at the military treatment facility is beneficial for military families. Military providers have a greater understanding of the unique challenges that military families face, such as frequent deployments and moves, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.

“The military is a unique culture and it has unique challenges,” Bradford said. “There is no other health care system that is comparable to ours in terms of scientifically guided treatments.”

Another unique aspect of receiving behavioral health services at BAMC is the fact that patient satisfaction is closely monitored. Each time a patient comes in for an appointment they are asked a series of questions to gauge how satisfied they are with their care and their provider.

“We monitor really closely how satisfied our beneficiaries are with our services, because that’s very important to us,” Bradford explained. “We don’t just want to be effective, we want to provide services that people will use and feel like they are benefiting greatly from.”

Another benefit to seeking behavioral health services within the military health system is the wait time for appointments in most cases is much shorter than seeking care in the civilian sector.

“The waiting period here at BAMC to see a psychiatrist on average is less than 14 days,” Keller said. “In the community the waiting period for an appointment with a licensed psychiatrist can be up to three or four months.”

Eliminating the Stigma

Service members are not required to tell their chain of command when they are seeking behavioral health services.

“We follow the same HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations that all health care providers must follow,” Bradford stressed. “Ethically we have to protect the privacy of our patients.”

There are cases where disclosure of something may be warranted, such as if the patient is threatening to harm themselves or someone else.

“In that case, we would disclose the minimum information necessary in order to keep the person safe or to take steps to help them out,” Bradford assured.

Bradford believes that having behavioral health services available within the medical clinics will help to alleviate some of the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues.

Keller agrees. “Including behavioral health topics in medical discussions as part of the medical treatment team shows all of our beneficiaries and professional colleagues that it’s an organic illness just as cancer or diabetes or other illnesses,” Keller said.

Another way to help eliminate the stigma of behavioral health issues is to have senior military leaders share their own stories and experiences, Keller said.

“The main thing we try to do is make it as easy as possible for our patients to receive the help they need,” Bradford said. “Access is very important.”

There are several resources available to military beneficiaries, including the Military Crisis Line, which is available 24/7 at no cost, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Military OneSource website, https://www.militaryonesource.mil/, also has several resources available to military families.

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Army and Air Force Exchange Service

In the six months since the Army & Air Force Exchange Service officially expanded online shopping privileges to all honorably discharged Veterans, more than 50,000 former service members have used the new benefit, saving an average of 20 percent off MSRP and avoiding a total of $3 million in sales tax so far.

“With the national average sales tax being 8.5 percent, the Veterans online shopping benefit offers significant savings to all who raised their right hand and took an oath to defend our Nation—no matter how long they served,” said Exchange Director/CEO Tom Shull, a Vietnam-era Army Veteran who worked tirelessly to secure the change in Department of Defense policy after joining the Exchange in 2012. “This benefit is a modest way to thank all who have served and welcome them home.”

The Veterans online shopping benefit, which launched on Veterans Day 2017, marked the first expansion of military exchange privileges since 1990. Veterans have used their new benefit to order nearly 500,000 items at ShopMyExchange.com—tax-free.

On ShopMyExchange.com, Veterans find a wide assortment of national-brand at an average savings of 20 percent off MSRP. Shopping the Exchange online reconnects Veterans with their military community, allowing them to remain Soldiers and Airmen for life.

Dan Sacco, a Vietnam Veteran who lives in Trumbull, Conn., had been without an Exchange benefit for nearly 50 years, after leaving the Army in 1970. When he shops with ShopMyExchange.com, he knows he is making a difference to service members and their families.

“This is an incredible benefit to offer,” said Sacco, who has shopped ShopMyExchange.com for electronics, clothing, gifts and more. “There’s no taxes, no shipping charges with a MILITARY STAR card, and it supports the military. It’s better than Amazon. There’s no negative.”

Every purchase Veterans make online improves life for service members and their families as 100 percent of Exchange earnings support programs including military uniforms at cost; school lunches below cost for Warfighters’ children overseas; Child Development Centers; Youth Programs; Fitness Centers; and career opportunities for spouses, Veterans and Wounded Warriors. In the last decade years, the Exchange has distributed more than $2.4 billion to critical military Quality-of-Life programs.

To verify eligibility and begin shopping, Veterans can visit ShopMyExchange.com\veterans or VetVerify.org.

Facebook-friendly version: In the six months since the Army & Air Force Exchange Service officially expanded online shopping privileges to all honorably discharged Veterans, more than 50,000 former service members have used the new benefit, saving an average of 20 percent off MSRP and avoiding a total of $3 million in sales tax so far. Read more: https://bit.ly/2rRsSOQ

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Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) has gone where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing. The Exchange is the 56th-largest retailer in the United States. Its earnings provided $2.4 billion in dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs over the last 10 years. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our website at http://www.shopmyexchange.com or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ExchangePAO.

For more information or to schedule an interview with an Exchange representative please contact Julie Mitchell, 214-312-3327 or mitchelljul@aafes.com.

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Story by Julie Mitchell
Army & Air Force Exchange Service HQ

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Iraq Afghanistan Veterans Of America

Iraq Afghanistan Veterans Of America is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America.
We don’t just support veterans, we empower them!

Iraq Afghanistan Veterans Of America provides valuable resources and empowers veterans to connect with one another, fostering a strong and lasting community.Through education, advocacy and community building, we strive to create a country which honors and supports veterans of all generations.

Iraq Afghanistan Veterans Of America is the voice of the 2.8 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, raising awareness in the media, on Capitol Hill and among the general public.
We address critical issues facing new veterans and their families, including mental health injuries, a stretched VA system, inadequate health care for female veterans and GI Bill educational benefits.

Membership is FREE and open to ALL veterans, family members and supporters. Join us today at iava.org/#join.

As an organization founded and run by veterans, IAVA is absolutely committed to ensuring our programs make the largest impact for as many veterans as possible—at the lowest costs. Since our founding 11 years ago, IAVA has connected more than 1.27 million veterans with resources and support while being exceptionally fiscally responsible to the thousands of individuals, foundations and corporate partners who support our mission.

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Gary Sinise Foundation

At the Gary Sinise Foundation, we serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders,their families, and those in need.

We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate,inspire, strengthen, and build communities.

The experiences of war leave an indelible impact on our servicemen and women. As they return to civilian life, the physical, emotional and psychological challenges they face are often difficult. As citizens, supporting the heroes who defend our nation is a responsibility we can share. We are all beneficiaries of the freedom and security they fight to protect.

The Gary Sinise Foundation was established under the philanthropic direction of a forty-year advocate for our nation’s defenders, actor Gary Sinise. Its outreach supports those who sacrifice to defend our country: active duty, veterans, first responders, and their loved ones. While our mission is broad, we’ve created nine key programs to show gratitude for our American heroes through entertainment, family support, and acts of appreciation.

The Gary Sinise Foundation builds specially adapted smart homes for America’s severely wounded veterans through its R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment). Each home features automated amenities to ease the daily challenges these heroes face. In addition, R.I.S.E provides adapted vehicles, mobility devices, and home modifications to injured, wounded, ill and/or aging heroes from all conflicts.

For more than a decade, Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band have toured the globe in support of our troops. As a program of the Foundation, the band is raising spirits and awareness for military and first responder causes worldwide.

Through its Invincible Spirit Festivals, the Gary Sinise Foundation is boosting the morale at military medical centers across the country. These daylong celebrations provide a respite from the rigors of rehabilitation for the hospital’s patients, staff, and families. The Relief & Resiliency Outreach program is providing complete support to those recovering from trauma, injury and loss during times of urgent need. The Foundation is also providing financial support and training to America’s firefighters, police departments and EMTs through its First Responders Outreach program.

Additionally, the Gary Sinise Foundation is showing appreciation through Serving Heroes, a program providing hearty, classic American meals to our defenders across the country. It’s a special way to remind them that they are on our minds and that we appreciate their service. The Arts & Entertainment Outreach program now includes the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago and the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Each theatre provides dinner and a performance to local veterans free of charge.

Through our Ambassador Council we’re sending representatives to inspire, educate, and remind communities to recognize their local veterans and to remember the sacrifices made by all of American defenders.

In 2015, the Gary Sinise Foundation launched Soaring Valor with The National WWII Museum and American Airlines. The program provides WWII veterans a chance to visit the museum and supports documenting their first-hand accounts of the war on video for future generations.

The Gary Sinise Foundation works to ensure the sacrifices of America’s defenders and their families are never forgotten.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Gary Sinise Foundation

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