by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Caya
914th Airlift Wing
4/8/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Members
of the Air Force Reserve Psychological Health Advocacy Program attended
a pre-deployment briefing and hosted an information table at the
community activity center during the April Unit Training Assembly.
"PHAP is a free and confidential resource provider," said PHAP Outreach
Specialist Pamela Boyd. "Just think of us as a big tool box: anything
and everything out there that can help our reservists and families.
That's what we are."
Some areas that PHAP assists reservists and families with are family
counseling, child and teenager concerns, marriage retreats, alcohol and
substance abuse, suicide prevention, mental health issues, Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder, anger management, and domestic violence.
An Airman or spouse can come to PHAP for any reason and its staff
members will work as a conduit to provide resources that will benefit
"We will get you services...(and) ensure that the resources help, instead of harm, your career."
PHAP is a creation of the Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Program, which
promotes the well-being of reservists and their families by connecting
them with resources before and after deployments via training weekends
held around the country. PHAP was formed because there was a need for a
resource specifically for reservists that could be used at a time of
crisis and would not negatively affect their career, said Bonnie
Newhall, a PHAP outreach specialist.
"What's special about us is that we provide continuous follow-up," said
Boyd. "We open a completely confidential case on a member that is kept
away from the chain of command and military records."
"They don't want people to know their business, we get that," said
Newhall. "If someone in an Airman's chain of command requests
information about the member, we tell the first sergeant or commander to
ask their Airman how they are doing; we do not divulge any information
about the Airman or their family to anyone."
PHAP is not a one-size-fits-all program. The staff members treat each
case and each Airman as an individual. They give each Airman, or family
member individual attention; and the amount of follow-up with them
depends on each situation and what the Airman or family requests.
"We'll contact them via phone, text, or email," said Boyd.
According to both specialists, there are many current and retired
reservists who are a part this program, assisting fellow service members
and their families.
"When we say we understand, we really do," said Newhall. "We are not
doing this to pacify the member or the spouse. We've been there, done it
or are currently doing it."
"We understand deployments, we understand the family that is left
behind, and we understand other aspects of the reserves...the fear of
retribution for seeking help," she said.
PHAP services are free, confidential and available to each reservist and their family, said Boyd.
"We would never turn a military member away but we only open cases for
reservists, Individual Mobilization Augmentees and their families."
Newhall told the story of a spouse who requested her Airman husband not
know that she was contacting PHAP. The specialists worked with the wife
confidentially, around her schedule, and armed her with the tools and
resources she needed to make her marriage work.
"We will work around their time and needs and cater to what is
convenient for them," said Newhall. "We are 24/7 for you and we can be
reached at any time."
The North, West and South U.S. regions have an office, outreach
specialists and a registered nurse serving as a case facilitator.
"We work very closely with the Yellow Ribbon representatives. They know how and when to get ahold of us," said Boyd.
"It doesn't matter what it is, we are there for you and we will make
sure, whatever the issue is, it is resolved," said Newhall.
The North Region of PHAP, which has its offices at Wright-Patterson AFB,
Ohio, serves New York, 21 other states and Washington, D.C. Its
providers' and specialists' contact information is as follows:
Jennifer L. Wedel, registered nurse case facilitator
Telephone: (937) 257-2396 Cell: (937) 470-5544
Pamela Boyd PHAP outreach specialist
Telephone: (937) 257-2396
Bonnie Newhall PHAP outreach specialist
Samarra Appling, adminstrtative specialist
Telephone: (937) 257-2396
PHAP 24-hour call center 1-888-810-2400