Military News

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Psychological health resources available to Airmen

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 the member.

"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."

Boyd agreed.

"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

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