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    Behavioral health professionals provide a ready resource for deployed Soldiers

    Behavioral health professionals provide a ready resource for deployed Soldiers

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Tina Villalobos | CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait—Staff Sgt. Michael McMillan, 35th Inf. Div. behavioral health...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Tina Villalobos 

    35th Infantry Division

    CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Since arriving in Kuwait last June, most 35th Infantry Division Soldiers have figured out how to navigate Camp Arifjan and learned where to go to attend to their basic needs, such as the dining facility, the gym, the pool and the post exchange. But as time goes on and the hardships of the deployment begin to wear on our Soldiers, and some may be at a loss when it comes to knowing where to find help with emotional or stress-causing issues.

    Soldiers are generally adept at becoming acclimated to their surroundings and their duties, but there may be times when help is needed to overcome obstacles and burdens that may begin to feel too heavy to carry alone. Some Soldiers may have family difficulties at home and find themselves feeling helpless to contribute to a resolution as they normally would. Others are not used to the high operations tempo, and have begun to feel overwhelmed, but don’t know where to turn for relief.

    “Sometimes, you find that people are just stressed or burned out, and need someone to talk to,” said Staff Sgt. Michael McMillan, behavioral health non-commissioned officer in charge. “Maybe they just need a referral of where to go to resolve their problems, such as finance, legal and so forth. Other times, it just helps a Soldier to vent and feel better.”

    That’s where the 35th Inf. Div. behavioral health team’s mission, “Early identification and early intervention to preserve the fighting force,” comes in.

    “The first step in going to talk with someone may be the hardest—but after that, it’s easy,” said McMillan. “The goal is not to send Soldiers home or put them on medication unnecessarily. We want to do all we can to help Soldiers, so they can do their jobs and learn better tools for coping and managing stress.”

    There are a plethora of unforeseen issues that can arise during a deployment and after. Issues are not restricted by rank or gender—and any Soldier can find themselves in a position of needing help to restore a healthy balance of sleep, nutrition, exercise and spirituality.

    Soldiers of 35th Inf. Div. are fortunate in that they have access to their own behavioral health staff available to address their needs.
    Capt. Trever Patton, 35th Inf. Div. psychologist, earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Wichita State University and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology and neuropsychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. Patton is a clinical psychologist whose work with veterans spans more than 15 years.

    Patton said the Army has done a good job of eliminating reasons for any stigma associated with seeking help.

    “Today’s Army does a really good job of taking care of its Soldiers’ needs,” said Patton. Sometimes Soldiers have a very limited experience with behavioral health when they first reach out to us for services, and that gives me an opportunity to explain how things really work, which generally sets their minds at ease.”

    Patton’s down-to-earth nature, and wealth of life experience makes it easy for Soldiers to reach out and get the help they need. He comes well equipped to serve the needs of his fellow 35th Inf. Div. Soldiers. In addition to being a Soldier, Patton is a husband and father, from Wichita, Kansas, who understands all too well the difficulties of being separated from loved ones.

    “Capt. Patton is very pro-active and he likes to improve upon things,” said McMillan. “His interests are clearly in helping our Soldiers.”

    According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, psychological health consequences of deployment for service members can include the effects of traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, substance abuse disorders and suicide/suicidal ideation. Some disorders can lead to further problems if left untreated, and can spill over into Soldiers’ personal and professional lives with negative consequences if left untreated.
    As early as 2004, the NCBI stated that an estimated 25 percent of troops returning from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffered from some form of psychological health disorder.

    An important key to recovery, according to Patton, is early intervention and treatment. Many times service members don’t recognize changes in themselves—instead, their loved ones or someone else close to them will bring it to their attention and suggest that the service member seek help.

    “If a loved one tells you that you seem different, or as though something is wrong; take it seriously,” said Patton. “Seek help early, because the earlier the intervention, and the closer it is to the point of trauma, the more successful it will be. Post-traumatic stress disorder reinforces itself for a lot of reasons; there are symptoms such as a startle and hypervigilance that can become reinforced by the stress and chaos in that person’s life. This can result in artifacts that become reinforced; so for those of us that are downrange, it is very important to seek out help if we’re experiencing issues. The prognosis will be much better for that Soldier than if they wait, 5 years, for example.”
    According to Patton, although two Soldiers may have experienced the same situation, they could easily process it differently and be affected by it differently.

    Some troops may not reach out for help because they fear there will be negative consequences to their career. However, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, talking to a doctor about your concerns, asking if you need a diagnosis, or seeking treatment does not affect your career. Additionally, those seeking help no longer risk losing their clearance by consulting a doctor.

    For any 35th Inf. Div. Soldiers that may feel uncomfortable comfortable meeting with a provider within the unit, there are other options. There are several behavioral health providers, including a neuropsychologist, clinical psychologists as well as social workers that provide therapy at the Combat Operational Stress Control unit located on Camp Arifjan at the Troop Medical Clinic in Zone 1.

    “Although I hope our Soldiers feel comfortable in seeing me, the important thing is that they get the help they need,” said Patton.

    Behavioral health resources can help Soldiers with sleep, relationships, anger and irritability, depression, PTSD, stress and anxiety, tobacco cessation and TBI.

    For more information, contact Capt. Trever Patton, at: DSN 318-480-2441 (, or Staff Sgt. Michael McMillan, at: DSN 318-480-2441 (



    Date Taken: 11.01.2017
    Date Posted: 11.03.2017 03:29
    Story ID: 253728
    Location: CAMP ARIFJAN, KW 

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