USAG Humphreys, South Korea — The 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion highlighted ways for Soldiers to maintain themselves in a Fully Mission Capable (FMC) status, during February.
FMC is usually a term reserved for equipment, but in line with Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville’s philosophy of “People First” and the battalion’s higher headquarters 501st MI Brigade PMCS of the Mind initiative, 3rd MI Battalion has taken to Facebook to highlight how their Soldiers can keep themselves mentally at peak performance.
The initiative the battalion undertook was to make February - Fully Mission Capable Month.
“We wanted to align with the Army’s number one priority which is people first, support our brigade’s PMC of the mind initiative, while also combating one of the Army’s four corrosives currently affecting our formation, suicide,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Vanessa Gonzalez, 3rd MI Battalion. “During FMC month, we have been creating videos to share on social media to make our people aware of all the available resources within our brigade and on the installation and encourage people to seek help.”
Maj. Jerome Reitano, executive officer, 3rd MI Battalion, started the Facebook video series explaining FMC Month’s premise.
“As the battalion XO (executive officer), maintenance is near and dear to my heart,” said Reitano. “And one of our most critical assets in this aerial exploitation battalion is our aircraft.”
He explained that the Army charges them to keep the aircraft at a minimum 75 percent FMC rating. This allows for up to 25 percent of the aircraft’s time to be allotted for scheduled or unscheduled maintenance while still being considered 100 percent mission effective.
“Now what if I were to tell you that there is a more critical asset in this battalion that impacts more than just the flight line; our brains,” said Reitano. “And unfortunately, in the Army and in our battalion we have a culture that defines mental maintenance as needing to be 100 percent on at all times.”
Reitano said that during February, he wanted to challenge the battalion’s Soldiers to take a look at their mental maintenance and realize that it is okay not to be 100 percent at all times. That it is ok to conduct scheduled or unscheduled maintenance on our bodies and our minds in order to be 100 percent mission effective.
The services the battalion highlighted during February were:
· the Unit Ministry Team (UMT)
· the Military Family Life Counselor
· Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program personnel
· master resiliency training
· behavioral health counseling
· United Service Organization (USO)
Chaplain Capt. Michael Anderson, battalion chaplain and one of the proponents for the FMC program, highlighted the confidentiality granted by the Army to the UMT (the chaplain and the religious affairs specialist).
“We get a lot of people who come in and just need a safe space and a safe person to talk about things,” said Anderson. “One of the things we want you to know is that we are here to help you and support you. We just want to be a resource for you to be able to lean on; a listening ear and a caring voice to help you on your life journey.”
During a video with Capt. Irene Yau, flight surgeon for 3rd MI Battalion, she made sure to mention that anything medical or mental health-related that is shared with her is also confidential. She discussed her initial insight into the mental status of the Soldiers that come to her for medical care, the medical screening form. She indicated that the questions relating to the Soldiers’ mental welfare allow her to ask follow-up questions and help them get the care they need.
The battalion also went out of the way to let their Soldiers know that seeking behavioral health services wouldn’t negate their security clearance, which is always of concern for military intelligence personnel.
“Your mental health is a cornerstone in protecting our national security,” said 2nd Lt. Tristan Walker, 3rd MI Battalion intelligence officer and security manager. “What usually happens is that you will not be adjudicated because you seek counseling, but because you didn’t seek counseling, certain incidents occur, which could be alcohol abuse, drug abuse or even foreign influence. From not seeking mental health assistance, you are vulnerable to other things happening to you that most definitely would lead to you losing your security clearance.
The battalion also featured a video with Maj. Jonathan Anderson, a Pan American Games gold medal winner in wrestling and Olympic hopeful who spoke about his experiences and getting mentally stronger.
“I learned that mental strength is not only important but that you can train it,” said Anderson. “There are many different things and resources that you can use to get you to the next level.”
Anderson said his keys to success were working really hard, staying focused, and training every area of his life. He said he trains his body and mind with the help of experts in their fields and uses every opportunity to continue to seek out improvement. Anderson closed by saying that we are all human beings and its okay not to be 100 percent all the time; and challenged everyone to not be afraid to seek out help and fully commit to it.
Nearing the end of FMC Month, Gonzalez said she has already noticed that people in their special teams, such as the UMT, Equal Opportunity representatives, Master Resilience Trainers, Unit Victim Advocates, and Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, are all taking ownership and being more proactive about spreading awareness about available resources and providing training as requested.
“We want to emphasize that it takes more strength and personal courage to ask for help than not to,” said Gonzalez. “We also want to encourage our people to take the time to understand and care for one another, so we can recognize when someone needs help. At the end of the day, knowledge is power, so we hope that we have helped improve the awareness of our Soldiers as to the people and places they can go for help and increase their feelings of safety doing so.”
The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade provides indications and early warning of actions by opposing forces who 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.