VICENZA -- It takes strength of body and mind to strap on more than 100 pounds of combat equipment, walk confidently to the open door of an aircraft flying at 1,200 feet, and step out to freefall into battle.

That strength of mind is what Lance Chamberlain, clinical psychologist, and his colleagues in the Embedded Behavioral Health Clinic work tirelessly to focus on every day.

In early June, Chamberlain joined paratroopers from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade during Operation Rock Drop II.

He met paratroopers at the Aviano Air Force Base flight line, worked with them as they completed pre-jump preparations, donned their combat equipment and boarded the aircraft.

Chamberlain then rode shoulder to shoulder with the Soldiers aboard the C-130 "Hercules" and watched as each one definitively stepped through that aircraft door.

The mission of the Embedded Behavioral Health Clinic is not just to be assigned to units. The staff interacts with Soldiers where they train and on their missions. That is, they do not just stay in an office and wait for Soldiers to come sit on their couch.

"Within the 173rd, our embedded behavioral health professionals are a critical member of the team. They assist paratroopers in reaching their potential and are trusted advisors to leaders, and they always take the extra steps to get a better feel for the conditions under which our paratroopers strive to excel," said Lt. Col. J.D. Keirsey, commander, 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Rgt.

"These behavioral health providers engage Soldiers from within the footprint of the brigade, enhancing operational readiness and eliminating barriers to care," said Lt. Col. Kane Morgan, commander of the health clinic in Vicenza.

Behavioral health providers regularly accompany the unit they serve on training missions and deployments to interact cohesively with command teams and paratroopers outside the walls of a clinic setting.

"When our embedded behavioral health providers train side by side with the brigade, they gain important insight into the demands facing our paratroopers while simultaneously building camaraderie and respect with the Soldiers and their commanders," said Morgan.

Chamberlain explained why that is so important.

"Our goal is to be visible to the formation and to encourage paratroopers to walk through our door with the same trust and confidence that they use to walk through the door of a C-130," said Chamberlain. "If paratroopers can interact with us in their environment, we can break down barriers and overcome any misconceptions about behavioral health care."

On this training mission it wasn't just a medic on the team, but a behavioral health provider as well, ensuring each Soldier functioned at his or her best, both in body and mind.

"Having Dr. Chamberlain in the PAHA and on our aircraft with us was an awesome opportunity for 'Rock' Paratroopers to assign a face to a resource," said Capt. Justin Rider, commander, H/2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Brigade Combat Team (Abn.). "The EBH Clinic is doing great things for the paratroopers who make the effort to use it, but sometimes the stigma that comes with initiating behavioral health care can prevent paratroopers from seeking it out. Having Doc out there with us gets at the root of that issue."

If you or someone you care about could benefit from meeting with a behavioral health professional, please reach out by calling DSN 636-9140, comm. 0444-61-9140.

(Passut is the patient advocate and public affairs representative for USAHC-V.)