USAG HUMPHREYS, South Korea — The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade hosts a virtual preventive maintenance check and services of the mind with personnel during the week of Jan. 25.
With all the restrictions and new requirements put in place with COVID-19, the unrest back in the United States, and the transition to new leadership, the Army team has been through a lot the past year.
Col Paul Oh, commander, 501st MI Brigade, is focusing on the Army’s number one priority; taking care of our Soldiers, Civilians, and Families ensuring the brigade's readiness.
“In our current operational environment, our Soldiers and civilians are dealing with being far from home, the cold Korean winter, loneliness, not being able to travel, relationship issues – all exacerbated by the COVID pandemic,” said Oh. “These issues degrade our readiness and can ultimately manifest themselves in suicide ideation and suicide attempts by our Red Dragons who may be feeling helpless.”
The week began with a virtual commanders’ conference held on Microsoft Teams. During the conference, Oh reminded attendees that the Army conducts physical and medical checkups to prevent bigger problems from manifesting themselves.
“We want to get our leaders thinking about how to prevent behavioral health issues in ourselves and those we lead,” said Oh. “We need them to know there are resources and agencies available on post and beyond this post that can help us deal with these issues.”
To start the process of putting a face and name to the agencies so leaders, especially front-line supervisors, know how to reach out, command teams received a complete description of the behavioral health services available for their Soldiers and Families from Maj. Melissa Boyd, outgoing chief of the outpatient behavioral health clinic at Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital (BAACH) at USAG Humphreys.
Col. Michael Cohen, command surgeon for Eighth Army, also attended. He explained that being a leader, who has the trust of his or her Soldiers, and staying connected are both essential for command teams to better care for their Soldiers. He said he is very excited about this week and is interested in what the brigade will learn about its mental health, a topic that is often neglected but is very important to the well-being of the organization.
Col. Toihunta Stubbs, command surgeon, United States Army Intelligence and Security Command, attended the commanders’ conference via MS Teams from INSCOM headquarters in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He offered the services of INSCOM medical personnel back in the States for personnel on nightshift in Korea, so they don’t have to interrupt their schedule.
Throughout the week, command teams from across the brigade received tours of behavioral health facilities at BAACH.
Maj. Cassandra Webb, incoming chief of the outpatient behavioral health clinic, conducted tours and explained the different aspects of her clinic, how it functions, and how its services can help Soldiers.
One of the services Webb seemed particularly proud of was group therapy.
“There is something magical about the group therapy dynamic,” said Webb. “They (group therapy participants) help each other and the group seems to heal itself with minimal direction and guidance from our staff.”
The tour moved on to visit with Maj. Daniel Hines, clinical nurse officer in charge of the in-patient clinic, and Casey Toliver, a medical support assistant, for a tour and explanation of in-patient services. Hines emphasized the importance of leadership involvement with their patients’ treatment and said he would welcome any interested command teams to come and receive tours and briefings on their programs.
Later in the week, the brigade hosted its Behavioral Health Fair, an event aimed at increasing the awareness of both Soldiers and leaders of programs available on Camp Humphreys. The brigade also used the event to establish a rapport between the brigade’s personnel and the providers of necessary mental health services. During the fair, small groups toured booths and were acquainted with services offered to Soldiers, Families, and Civilians, and were able to meet representatives from the programs.
The booths included representatives from organizations such as: behavioral health, the Army Substance Abuse Program, the Army Suicide Prevention Program, the Ready and Resilient (R2) Performance Center, Army Community Services, Soldier Family Readiness Group, the Army Wellness Center, Sexual Harassment / Assault Response and Prevention, Military and Family Life Counseling (MFLC), the Employee Assistance Program, and the Unit Ministry Team.
Juanita Meadley, the brigade’s MFLC, told visitors at her station that her program can provide non-medical, solution-focused counseling. The MFLC program, she explained focuses on providing counseling for life skills, such as anger management, communication, relationship issues, conflict resolution, and military lifestyle issues like deployment stress, relocation adjustment, homesickness, and separation.
“There has been a pervasive sense of stress since last March. We don’t know from day-to-day what to expect,” said Meadley. “Sometimes what people need is somebody to listen nonjudgmentally, and that is what I am here to provide.”
Oh commented that mental health is just as important as physical health. “During these stressful times, we need to step back and ensure our Soldiers and Civilians are armed with the knowledge and tools to help each other survive and thrive while serving in the Red Dragon brigade.”
This sentiment was reinforced by Lt. Gen. Bill. Burleson, Eighth Army commanding general, during a tour of the flight line he received Jan. 27. He commended the 501st MI Brigade for their initiative in taking time out to conduct PMCS of the Mind week. Burleson said that we have to show our people we care about them.
The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade provides indications and early warning of actions by opposing forces that could threaten the tense but stable peace in the Republic of Korea. In the event of hostilities, the brigade’s mission shifts to providing combined, multi-discipline intelligence and force protection support to the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command, the CFC Ground Component Command, and their subordinate units.