Highlanders protect mental health
June 10, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq (Army News Service, June 10, 2009) -- Soldiers in the U.S. Army do not suffer only physical injuries while deployed, and since 2003 leaders have made mental health care top concerns for their troops.
Soldiers don't have to go it alone when dealing with any mental health issues that arise.
"Taking care of Soldiers' health mentally and physically is the first step in accomplishing the brigade's mission," said Col. Peter A. Newell, 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division "Highlanders" commander.
According to Capt. Chris Ackman, medical plans officer at unit, the Combat Stress Clinic here is for Soldiers with mental health concerns.
"We want people to understand that our primary focus is on the health and welfare of our deployed personnel to enhance their wellness, provide effective coping skills and maintain mission focus," said Col. James Cockerill, commander, 732nd Combat Stress Control. "Getting care here is equal to or better than the care Soldiers would receive in a garrison environment."
Even though the closest CSC is located on COB Adder, Highlander Soldiers at other locations receive the same services, according to Ackman, because the CSC sends a psychologist and tech to other bases once or twice a month.
He added the CSC staff also encourages commanders to assist their Soldiers by rotating them back from outlying locations to where the CSC assets are making scheduled visits.
The CSC has many experts available, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners, and psych techs.
"Our psychiatrists have gone through medical school, with a special emphasis on psychotropic medications," said Ackman. "Our psychologists have gone through graduate school, emphasizing therapeutic techniques and clinical assessment. Social workers go through graduate school emphasizing therapy and case management. Nurse practitioners are trained for administration of psychotropic medications. Our psych techs have gone through (Advanced Individual Training) focused on behavioral health assessment and treatment. Bottom line, there is a wide variety of trainings and certifications," concluded Ackman.
With all the training the specialist have, they are able to provide the help to those who need it.
"Through good research and outcomes, we have responded and adapted to new mental health practices over the years," said Cockerill.
"What we do at the CSC serves as a gateway, steering each person who comes through to whichever type of provider and their specific skills most appropriate for the Soldiers desiring help," added Ackman.
(Spc. Bradley J. Clark serves with the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division.)