More than 100 PRMC staff recognized at SKILLS ceremony
August 23, 2012
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - More than 100 staff members from across health care specialties were recognized in a ceremony at Soldiers' Pavilion, U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, Aug. 17, here.
The Soldier Knowledge Integrating Lessons Learned for Strength program, or SKILLS, is an innovative program aimed at providing critical behavioral health services to the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team Soldiers returning from their most recent deployment.
SKILLS ran from January-May and constituted the largest collaboration of behavioral health assets on Oahu over the past decade.
"As one of the nation's large divisional posts, Schofield Barracks has experienced a high operational tempo, with units going downrange for up to 15 months at a time at one point," explained Col. Mary Krueger, commander, USAHC-SB. "Of course when these units came home, there was a huge demand for behavioral health care services."
The inaugural implementation of the three-tiered program required strong collaboration between Afghanistan and Hawaii, between the 3rd BCT and Army Medicine, between Tripler Army Medical Center and USAHC-SB, between officer, enlisted and civilian personnel, and between staff from various specialties and professional backgrounds.
"In all, successful execution of the SKILLS program from start to finish required intense coordination among 12 different services communicating across 17 miles of highway in Hawaii and 14 time zones worldwide," explained Lt. Col. Wendi Waits, chief, Behavioral Health Services, USAHC-SB.
Of the 109 staff members recognized, four were recognized with an Army Commendation Medal or Commander's Award for Civilian Service; six were recognized with the Army Achievement Medal or Achievement Medal for Civilian Service; 61 were recognized with a certificate of achievement and time-off award or pass; and 38 received a certificate of appreciation. Fifteen staff members also received a commander's coin. Employees not present at the ceremony received their awards in the mail or other distribution methods.
"All of these individuals were involved in this program," Krueger said. "They came together to make sure needs were identified and needs were met."
The collaborative effort has been quite a success; it not only benefited Soldiers, but it also increased efficiency and saved money.
"In addition to providing an obvious safety net for redeploying 3rd Brigade Soldiers, SKILLS resulted in a seven-fold reduction in wait time for behavioral health assessments, and allowed all interested Soldiers to complete a full psychoeducational program before going on block leave," Waits said. "Eighty-three percent of SKILLS group participants felt the process allowed them to access the support they wanted.
"Implementation of group assessments resulted in a cost savings of over $14,000. It created an additional 187 patient care hours beyond what would have been available using traditional assessment methods," Waits continued. "These positive outcomes would not have been possible without the selflessness and exceptional commitment to duty of each and every one of today's award recipients."