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    Fortifying resiliency one airman at a time

    Director of Psychological Health supports Michigan Airman

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Bethany Rizor | Sonya Bilski was recently selected to fill the Director of Psychological Health...... read more read more

    BATTLE CREEK, MI, UNITED STATES

    03.29.2019

    Story by Staff Sgt. Bethany Rizor 

    110th Wing

    BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The U.S. military takes great pride in developing the most elite fighting force in the world. From the moment their boots hit the ground for basic military training to the moment they return from deployment, physical fitness is one of the most important aspects of life for a service member. Equally important to the readiness of our service members is a high standard for mental health and fitness.
    Our mental health can falter due to a multitude of variables, from the loss of employment to the loss of a loved one. No one is exempt from possible threats to our mental health, and we have all witnessed someone around us struggling in life.
    Col. Bryan Teff, 110th Wing commander, has often referred to the mental health of the force as a mission-enabling concept.
    “The overall health of our force consists of four pillars; mental, social, spiritual, and physical; these pillars are essential to building resilient airmen,” Teff said. “The most basic step in achieving a ready force is to ensure the health and resiliency of our airmen. Leaders understand that readiness begins with airmen and their families.”
    Ms. Sonya Bilski was recently appointed the director of psychological health for the 110th Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Mich. Bilski has a passion for service members and veterans, and she takes their mental health very seriously.
    With a background in social work and psychology, Bilski acquired her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Western Michigan University. She then went on to complete her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She is certified in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and is an advanced alcohol and drug counselor.
    Bilski says that she chose her career path after her step-mother inspired her to become a social worker.
    “Psychology is more hands-off and pertains to testing and diagnosing,” said Bilski. “As a social worker, you are more involved in assisting in changing one’s habits to obtain better outcomes; I like that perspective of being an advocate for people and helping them make changes in their life.”
    Bilski began her career at Hope Network, a healthcare organization specializing in brain injury rehabilitation, behavioral health services, skill building, and respite care, in a 24/7 crisis home. There she learned very quickly how to handle tough situations as a crisis worker. She went on to work for the Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services of St. Joseph County as a case manager. Most recently, she worked at Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center as a clinic coordinator for substance use disorders. There, she helped develop an aftercare program for individuals struggling with substance use disorders as well as a relapse prevention program.
    She considers her previous experiences in the field of mental health care a positive foundation from which she can better serve the members of the 110th Wing and their families.
    “Forming open and honest relationships with the people I work with is so important,” Bilski said. “I was assigned patients that had it hard; I really took the time to get to know my patients and learn their life goals to help them make better choices for their future.”
    The most challenging part of her new position is “getting past the stigma,” said Bilski. “What can I do to make a bigger impact is to help identify solutions for those seeking help, as well as encourage every Airman in the Wing to use the resources we have here on base.”
    According to the dictionary, stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others. Since the First World War, breaking down the barriers created by stigma has been a tough mission for mental health providers in the military community; today it is still an uphill battle.
    Airmen should be aware of the fact that as far as their leadership is concerned, there is no stigma in seeking out mental health care resources. In fact, ensuring their own mental fitness is an integral part of every Airman’s responsibility to be prepared to execute their mission.
    “We all need to look to the soldier and airmen to our left and our right and confirm that they are resilient and able to confront their challenges,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Michigan National Guard adjutant general. “We must care enough to act swiftly and compassionately if we think they are not.”
    As the 110th Wing’s new director of psychological health, Bilski is eager to immerse herself in the Wing’s needs, bringing good resources to its Airmen and their families, and working to promote a culture with healthy attitudes toward preventative measures. Her role as an advocate of resiliency and mental health is critical to ensuring the Airmen of the 110th Wing are ready whenever their state or nation calls.
    Her success is a top priority of Wing leadership.
    “A resilient Airmen is able to focus on their particular role and the specific part they plan in accomplishing the mission,” said Teff. “The end result is a ready Airmen, and readiness is the top priority for the 110th Wing.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 03.29.2019
    Date Posted: 04.13.2019 09:05
    Story ID: 316133
    Location: BATTLE CREEK, MI, US 

    Web Views: 74
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    Fortifying resiliency one airman at a time