Military News

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

POTFF to help Air Commandos, families: POTFF provider's procedures

by Airman 1st Class Andrea Posey
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

10/23/2013 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- This is the third article in a series about Preservation of the Force and Family, a special operations command initiative, and how it will help Air Commandos and their families at Hurlburt Field.

Lt. Col. Patrick O'Maille, 1st Special Operations Support Squadron, Psychological Applications chief, has been involved in Preservation of the Force and Family since its very beginning and has participated as a subject matter expert in the source selection for the contracting company.

O'Maille educates POTFF providers on how to effectively engage the unit members in conversation in a way which makes them approachable if someone needs help. This enhances the provider's skills on how to have effective conversations.

"It's a lot of role play of common situations that could come up with the unit member," he said. "So looking at ordinary situations that people have that could be initial signals of them beginning a gradual decline toward something that could emerge into mental health problems."

O'Maille said he mentors POTFF providers and gives them technical oversight.

This involves meeting with POTFF providers weekly and addressing how things are going, if there are any friction points that need to be smoothed over, or if there is any information he needs to get from POTFF providers to help with their mission.  O'Maille also works as a liaison between POTFF providers and the 1st Special Operations Medical Group. POTFF providers are credentialed at the 1st SOMDG and have to meet certain requirements.

O'Maille encourages providers to engage with their organizations and get involved with activities by attending operations, intelligence and staff meetings.

"This makes it so they're no longer seen as just mental health staff, but as another unit member who have some additional skills and abilities to help get the mission done," O'Maille said.

He also talks to commanders who have providers embedded in their units to ensure the interface is effective.

"I'm helping the POTFF providers evolve to where their success is determined by a unit member not seeing them as the psychological or social worker but as part of the team," he said. "A lot of folks will look to their left and right and see who they have around that know something about the problem and can help them, someone they trust and are comfortable with. To have somebody who has that additional mental health expertise really enables some helping to occur much earlier in the stream."

O'Maille believes the effects POTFF will have within the units are changing the historical misperceptions about the negative implications of going to the medical group as the first level of intervention when an issue comes up.

"The game changer is that there's a lot of talking, interaction and conversations that happen at that lower level with individuals," he said. "This gives them the ability to make referrals and get resources quickly into someone's hands so they don't have to go through a bureaucratic channel, fill out paper work and go through numerous steps to be logged into a system before they can get help presented to them. The help can occur quickly without a lot of administrative action happening. I think the rapidness of the helping is what sets it apart from the medical group."

As for the future of POTFF, O'Maille said there will be a new needs easement survey given the 1st Special Operations Wing. This will give POTFF providers information to work with based on the concerns.

"Whatever gets offered in the future is going to depend on the needs of the units," he said. "It is up to the POTFF providers to have a good healthy working relationship with their organization and command team so that they can offer up whatever the unit members need for a class, briefing or a group meeting depending on the situation."

O'Maille said he predicts more integration in community resources.

For example, the airmen and family readiness center has requirements to deliver base resiliency interventions throughout the wing.

O'Maille said he encourages calibration in these types of efforts because it will individualize and customize events to individual units.

"POTFF providers are there daily and will pick up on what makes that organization unique," he said. "The value of the collaboration would be to customize the events so units feel like they are getting something out of it, it wouldn't be just a cookie cutter educational offering but instead a uniquely tailored event for them."

The next article in this series will focus on how chaplains are implementing POTFF at Hurlburt Field.

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