Take advantage of support EAP offers Fort Polk community
Amelia Connor, Employee Assistance Program Coordinator, provides new Garrison employees with an overview of EAP services. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT POLK, La. — Fort Polk’s Department of the Army Civilians work hard. That intense drive to get the job done can lead to stress. Add in whatever concerns they are dealing with in their personal lives and it can lead to a toxic mix of anxiety nobody should have to bear alone.

The Fort Polk Employee Assistant Program, 7438 California Ave., bldg 4275, is the place DA civilians can go to find the support they need to work through those burdens.

Amelia Connor, Employee Assistance Program coordinator, said Fort Polk takes care of its Soldiers and EAP is there to take care of its DA civilians.

“EAP gives Fort Polk’s DA civilians a vitally important, free counseling resource on the installation, one they wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” she said.

EAP falls under the umbrella of Fort Polk’s Army Substance Abuse Program.

It’s goal, according to Connor, is to help employees identify and resolve problems.

She said if employees are having difficulties at work due to drugs or alcohol or at home from financial, marital, mental health or medical issues that might be affecting job performance, EAP can be contacted by either the employee or the supervisor to provide assistance.

“They don’t have to have a diagnosable problem to use me. I’m simply an individual that can listen to their issues and try to help with their life/work balance,” she said. “We do screenings and non-clinical counseling. If individuals need additional assistance or the situation is outside EAP’s scope, then we will refer them to an outside facility,” she said.

Connor provides short-term counseling to civilian federal employees, retired military members, their Families and retired civilian employees.

She said EAP doesn’t work with active duty Soldiers, but can work with their adult dependents.

“Short-term counseling can mean anywhere from one to five counseling sessions per individual depending on the situation,” she said.

For example, Connor said a DA civilian that had recently lost his spouse came to her office for help.

“He needed a safe place to grieve. I listened to him and tried to give him tips and techniques to work through the mourning process,” she said.

Folks that visit Connor with substance abuse issues, are given the help they need to take the next step in their journey to abstinence.

“They are given local resources, found on the installation and off, to help them in the rehabilitation process,” she said.

Stress management is one of the issues Connor said she sees most often.

“Many times employees are overwhelmed and don’t know how to cope. The answer can be as simple as talking to someone who isn’t emotionally attached in their day-to-day situation,” she said.

Connor said many of the people that are stressed are retired Soldiers that have moved into the DA civilian side of the house.

“They are so focused on their work and helping the mission succeed that they lose sight of the fact that they have to take time for themselves,” she said. “We all have our own “stuff” we bring with us to the job. Add in the pressures found at work and it can feel like they are being inundated and on overload.”

In addition to individual sessions, EAP conducts sensing sessions for organizations — which aim to increase management awareness and understanding of the impact of the work environment on their employees.

These work-related discussions can take place at any facility on the installation that needs that service.

“Making employees feel like they have a voice and are being heard can motivate them to contribute more to the work environment,” said Connor. “It makes them feel like management cares about them when there are positive changes occurring at work. That’s where I feel we spend a great deal of our time and effort and where many of our success stories can be found.”

Connor said making a personal connection to the people she works with through EAP is rewarding.

“I love the satisfaction I get when I know I’ve actually helped someone,” she said. “It’s my favorite part of the job.”

That being said, Connor wants people to know that her door is always open and discussions with her are confidential.

The only exceptions to confidentiality are harm to self, child/spouse abuse, elder abuse/neglect or involvement in illegal activities.

“The key is knowing what the program is and how to access it. I want to encourage people to reach out to EAP and talk about the challenges they are facing,” she said.

To make an appointment with EAP call (337) 531-2031/1964.