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    New Fleet and Family Support Officer Arrives in Diego Garcia



    Story by Seaman Apprentice Mariterese Merrique 

    U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia

    Welcoming Diego Garcia’s New Fleet and Family Support Officer
    MSCA Mariterese Merrique
    DIEGO GARCIA, British Indian Ocean Territory (Sep. 17, 2020) – In the midst of travel constraints, on the most isolated installation in the U.S. Navy, the new Fleet and Family Support Officer has arrived.
    Lt. Julie Marie Bishop, the new Fleet and Family Support Officer assigned to U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia, is a licensed social worker with a master’s degree from the University of Baltimore, Maryland. She has experience working with individuals with mental health disorders and substance abuse issues.
    According to the Fleet and Family Support Program website, it aims to increase their response capability to reach geographically dispersed family members of active and reserve components and will continue their efforts, within their budgetary constraints, to provide resources and services to Individual Augmentee (IA) or Global War on Terrorism Support Assignment (GSA) families, families of wounded, ill or injured and the ombudsman network that supports them.
    Bishop has spent 27 years in the U.S. Navy. Nineteen years were spent as a corpsman. At the time of enlistment, she was a single parent and wanted to forge a better life for her daughter. She recalled someone suggested she join the military. She thought it was a great idea, and the rest is history.
    “I liked the stability and meeting different people,” said Bishop.
    She also said she wanted to be a nurse, but didn’t like it very much. In 2005, Bishop was offered the position of a Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor (DAPA).
    “I absolutely thought I wasn’t going to like it, and I ended up loving it, which is what got me into social work,” said Bishop.
    Time passed, and after considering her options, she ultimately decided to become an officer.
    “I love the Navy, and I loved being a social worker, so the opportunity to do both together was pretty phenomenal,” said Bishop. “There were some additional advantages monetarily. As a brand new social worker, I made way more just staying in the Navy than getting out and trying to navigate it on my own.”
    NSF Diego Garcia is Bishop’s third tour as an officer and first overseas tour. She has worked in mental health at the Naval Branch Medical Clinic in Gulfport, Mississippi, and in mental health and case management at Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms in California. She said there are some differences between her work in the past and the work ahead as a Fleet and Family Support Officer. She said the work is still clinical, but the aspects she will most likely be handling are considered non-medical clinical counseling.
    Essentially, her task as the new FFSO is to help others navigate through feelings of isolation and its effects.
    The Fleet and Family Support Program is organized into four functional areas critical to mission success. The Work and Family Life (WFL) programs prepare service members and their families for the demands of the military lifestyle. The Counseling, Advocacy and Prevention (CAP) programs provide individual, group and family counseling, victim intervention and related prevention education and awareness programs including clinical counseling.
    “Clinical is typically more of your major depressive disorders or your bipolar disorders where [on Diego Garcia] I’m dealing with adjustment,” said Bishop. “A lot of it is learning how to live alone and learning how to be away from everything that is your support system. If you think about it, in the States, we have our family. I live with my teenage daughters. So, for the first time in my life, I’m learning how to live alone.”
    “We’ve lived with mom and dad, or we’ve lived with friends or roommates or in a dorm if you’ve been to college, and you have that built-in social support system, and here you have to develop it,” she said. “And sometimes that can be really hard and challenging, so those are things that are great to come in and brainstorm with somebody about.”
    Bishop wants everyone to know that resources are available. Even if an individual is experiencing something that exceeds Fleet and Family services, she is there to connect them to the resources they need because catching an issue early is crucial to prevent escalation.

    She will be the Fleet and Family Support Officer on NSF Diego Garcia for at least a year. In that time, Bishop hopes to leave a positive impact on the Sailors here and that when they think about a counselor, they think of it as a great experience that was beneficial to them.



    Date Taken: 09.22.2020
    Date Posted: 09.22.2020 04:50
    Story ID: 378328
    Location: IO

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