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    New Jersey National Guard Resiliency Task Force supports service members

    New Jersey National Guard Resiliency Task Force supports service members

    Photo By Master Sgt. Matt Hecht | U.S. Army Chaplain Capt. Damon Missouri speaks with leadership at the Bergen Community...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht 

    New Jersey National Guard

    The moment Gov. Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey National Guard members were being brought into the fight against COVID-19, hundreds of Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen volunteered to serve their communities. Across the state, military Doctors and medical staff were there on the opening days of the drive-thru test sites, assisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the New Jersey Department of Health, the Office of Emergency Management, the New Jersey State Police, and countless nurses and medical staff called into action.

    In addition to medical missions, Guardsmen have been providing traffic control for testing sites, setup, security, and hospital administration for Federal Medical Stations; assistance to the Medical Examiner’s Office at mortuary sites, and providing medical and administrative support to long-term care facilities throughout the state.

    While New Jersey’s Soldiers and Airmen have put their all into the COVID-19 mission and supporting New Jersey’s citizens, a Task Force was created to support Guardsmen and their families during these stressful times.

    The Resiliency Task Force, a joint effort between the New Jersey National Guard Behavioral Health Office and the Chaplain’s Corps, has been traveling to sites across the state, offering support to Soldiers and Airmen in need.

    “Behavioral Health is an important part of medical readiness,” said Shawna Hinkson, a civilian social worker with the Behavioral Health Office. “It has a lot to do with how we interact, it affects the social, it affects our ability to focus on tasks.”

    Working in teams of two or three, the Task Force has been going out to talk to service members directly.

    “We’re going around to all the different sites throughout New Jersey,” said Behavioral Health Officer 1st Lt. Kevin Ball. “We’re doing check-ins and reminding them that it’s important to take care of other people during this time, but to also take care of themselves. You do have a mission, but it’s important to know that you can take a knee, and reflect on a daily basis, and just make sure that you’re well mentally, physically, and emotionally. You can’t do your daily mission unless you’re one hundred percent yourself.”

    The team noted that they’ve had a direct impact on the missions, and have already aided service members and their families undergoing stressors.

    “It feels good to help others,” said Capt. Melissa Parmenter, a Behavioral Health Officer. “It’s good to be that person to help remind others about self-care, because it’s probably the easiest thing to forget about, although it might be the most important.”

    Chaplain Capt. Damon Missouri is also part of the Task Force, providing spiritual resiliency and services to Guardsmen.

    “We have four chaplains assigned to specific sites, but my role is tied directly to Behavioral Health,” said Missouri. “We travel to each site in the state on a weekly basis, introducing ourselves to leaders, and offering support to Soldiers, Airmen, and their families. I offer prayer and confidential counseling for service members that have things on their heart and mind that may be difficult to talk about.”

    Missouri said that being around the Guardsmen and seeing what missions they’re dealing with gives him an opportunity to provide comfort, encouraging words, and hope.

    “It’s a ministry of presence,” said Missouri. “I get to remind Soldiers and Airmen that might be feeling stressed that what they’re doing is meaningful work, and it’s an opportunity to provide comfort for those in need.”

    “We’re here to offer support, clinical expertise, referrals, and assessments to our service members and we extend that support to their family members,” said Hinkson, “We’re here for you.”

    The Behavioral Health Office offers support to all New Jersey Guardsmen and their families through 24/7 access to a crisis hotline at 609-235-5959.



    Date Taken: 05.14.2020
    Date Posted: 05.14.2020 12:49
    Story ID: 369995
    Location: SEA GIRT, NJ, US 
    Hometown: GALLOWAY, NJ, US
    Hometown: NEWARK, NJ, US
    Hometown: SEA GIRT, NJ, US

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