CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - A Behavioral Health Leadership Symposium was held here July 23 involving assets from Third Army/ARCENT, 1st Theater Sustainment Command and United States Forces - Iraq to discuss strengthening partnerships between commanders, command sergeants major and Soldiers during deployment.“The power of leadership can impact Soldiers,” said Maj. Sam Preston, Medical Corp, United States Division - North, psychiatrist serving with USF-I and Cincinnati native. “Strong noncommissioned officer leadership reduces behavioral health casualty more than low combat exposure.”Likewise, Chaplain (Col.) Michael Strohm, 1st TSC and Lawton, Okla. native, further elaborated on the need for collaborative support and communication between behavioral health providers, chaplains and commanders.Strohm expressed that referrals and partnerships with behavioral health practitioners is what the chaplain corps wants most.
“We want to increase help seeking behaviors,” Strohm reiterated.The symposium furthered Third Army/ARCENT’s initiative to sustain the fight by providing round-table discussions to voice ideas and concerns related to: tools to help identify Soldiers at risk, commander’s guidance and explaining Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) impact on the mission and the commander’s role.Additionally, the symposium acted as a forum for senior leaders to realize chaplains and behavioral health providers are their consultants when it comes to the well-being of Soldiers.“It’s important for leadership to know what programs are here; to deal with marital issues, stress and coping issues,” stated Col. Chance Kaplan, commander, 3rd Medical Deployment Support Command, and Miami native.
“Leadership needs to know what behavioral health assets are available at the troop medical centers on Camps Arifjan, Ali Al-Salem, Buehring, Virginia, and Kuwait Naval Base 24 hours a day with medical evacuation capabilities,” Kaplan added. “If we can continue to not have any suicides with the retrograde and re-integration, I consider this symposium a success.”Third Army’s commitment to the well-being of its troops remains a priority. Through future symposiums, Third Army will continually educate leadership on how to better take care of their Soldiers. Third Army is constantly working to ensure that all Soldiers return home safely and receive quality treatment, for a smooth transition from the mission abroad to home.