Dr. Keri Tarantino discusses future plans with behavioral health liaisons from Madigan Healthcare System and the 98th Combat Stress Control Detachment. Tarantino heads the Behavioral Health Liaison program, which is a tool for Joint Base Lewis-McChord commanders to use when navigating the many programs in the Madigan Healthcare System's behavioral health department.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- Joint Base Lewis-McChord commanders now have a quick and informative resource to use when navigating the many programs in the Madigan Healthcare System Behavioral Health department - behavioral health liaisons.

The liaisons serve as a contact between brigade commanders and Madigan's behavioral health resources. Traversing the many departments can be challenging, especially with changes always occurring, but that's the purpose of the liaison program - to help educate and guide commanders in providing the best possible behavioral health care possible to their Soldiers and Family members, said Dr. Keri Tarantino, a clinical psychologist and director of the liaison program.

The program falls under the Department of Psychology and is currently staffed with five resident psychologists and one civilian provider. Each resident is assigned as a liaison to at least two brigades or major subordinate commands. They do not conduct therapy or give behavioral health assessments though - their year in the program will be providing behavioral health educational briefings to the commands or Family Readiness Groups, advising commanders on how to get Soldiers' behavioral health help, or working with the commands on implementing best practices in deployment reintegration.

Integrating a liaison into every major unit on the base can be daunting, and that's why Madigan has teamed up with the 98th Combat Stress Control Detachment, part of the 62nd Medical Brigade. The 98th offers enlisted Soldiers with behavioral health training to the liaisons as extra support and assistance for the commanders. "Bringing in the 98th creates receptivity with the line units, and they are a great asset for us," Tarantino said.

Capt. (Dr.) Julie Stream is the liaison for 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and has spent the past five months preparing for the unit's return. Even though the brigade's main party is not due back to JBLM for a few more months, Stream has already made contact with the 5/2 command to ensure that they are well-educated in what to expect when returning to the base. "It's been a really good experience working with the (5/2) commander focusing on the behavioral health needs of the unit," Stream said. "We are trying to address any possible behavioral health concerns that the commanders may have, and that takes a lot of pre-planning."

The program is another step in reducing the stigma associated with behavioral health, Tarantino said. This is accomplished by reducing the distance between the unit commander and the behavioral health team. "As Soldiers and commanders become more familiar and educated with behavioral health, they'll be more likely to use our services," Tarantino said.

For more information on the Behavioral Health Liaison program, call the Behavioral Health department at 253-968-2700.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16