News: Behavioral Health Course
Story by Staff Sgt. Christina Turnipseed
KIRKUK, Iraq - Soldiers from the medical staff of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored "Ready First" Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas, attended a behavioral health course at Forward Operating Base Warrior, Iraq, Dinning Facility, April 15 through April 16.
The Primary Care Behavioral Health Initiative train-the-trainer course was developed by Maj. Keith M. Lemmon, Medical Doctor Squadron surgeon, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, and Maj. Jake Richardson, 3rd Infantry Division, behavioral health consultant.
According to Capt. Miki Cain, the Ready First brigade surgeon, the purpose of the course is to help medics and doctors become proactive in dealing with behavioral issues by establishing a screening program to identify at-risk Soldiers.
One slide presented during the class stated, "Taking advantage of support programs is a sign of warrior strength, not weakness."
Maj. Mark Diddle, the brigade chaplain of Ready First, reminded the class participants how important spiritual fitness can be to emotional fitness.
"Simply having a chaplain come in and bring them [patients] a little something and ask them what they need can make a Soldier feel mentally and emotionally better," said Diddle.
Capt. Jill Koenig, the brigade psychologist for Ready First said, there can be emotional problems having physical effects on Soldiers, which is why she recommends those who can't sleep, who are stressed out and having problems with their command to come to sick call and refer themselves.
"It's all confidential when they walk in," said Koenig.
Soldiers can also be referred by their command but warns, the command then has to be kept informed of the Soldier's progress, according to Koenig.
"We travel around once a month so if there's anything out at these smaller FOBs, we can help," Koenig added.
Capt. Joshua Breitstein, a psychologist from the 85th Medical Detachment Combat Stress Control team, informed the medics and doctors about an emotional fitness program for Soldiers who need time to rest and recover.
The 2.5 day program offered at Contingency Operating Base Speicher and FOB Diamondback is for Soldiers to rest, learn coping skills and get back into the fight, Breitstein said, who can be reached at DSN: 444-2305.
According to Breitstein, the 85th CSC team, travels around to some of the bases in Northern Iraq to offer services and classes including: Stress/Anger Management, Battle Mind, Sleep Hygiene, Unit Behavioral Health Needs Assessment, Smoking Cessation, individual counseling and many other services.
"We're designed to go out to where the Soldiers are, to give them classes if they need it," said Breitstein.
Soldiers looking to take charge of their situation are encouraged to talk to their line medic, chaplain and doctor as a walk in or schedule an appointment.