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    Mental health resources paramount during stressful times

    Mental Health Care Access for our Military Community

    Photo By Spc. Daniel Thompson | A U. S. Army Soldier from 3rd Infantry Division exits Marne Embedded Behavioral Health...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Daniel Thompson 

    3rd Infantry Division

    After an elongated battle against COVID-19, economically and logistically strained conditions within society, and potential anxiety over the recent withdrawals from Afghanistan, it has become more important for leaders to not only continue to monitor their Soldier’s physical health, but their mental health as well.

    Help is also available for eligible Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield Military Family members as their strength is tested in weathering unique challenges such as frequent moves, deployments, employment challenges, and separations from loved ones.

    As people are more isolated due to restrictions designed to limit the transmission of COVID-19 and many exhibiting increased symptoms of depression, leaders, mental health professionals and chaplains are encouraging Soldiers, their Families, all Department of Defense civilians, and contractors to seek help if needed.

    “One of the major myths is that going to see a mental health professional is a career ender,” said Maj. Frank Ragukonis, 3rd Infantry Division Psychiatrist. “There are plenty of successful senior enlisted or senior officers who have reached out and received mental health care in their past or currently. Caring for your mental health will not prevent you from reaching your career and military goals.”

    There are many resources available to anyone that may find themselves lacking the tools to help them cope with the daily stresses of life. Leaders are the best source to obtain information when a Soldier feels like they may be in crisis. They can help guide the Soldier to the appropriate support channel and intervene in a timely manner.

    Capt. Chelsea Kay, commander of the 549th Military Police Company, 385th Military Police Battalion, is an experienced orator for suicide prevention.

    “The more that we talk about it and have an honest conversation, the better off we are,” Kay said. “Educating people on the signs and symptoms is a way to help others or it may even be a way to help yourself because you may realize you are not alone.”

    If Soldiers are not comfortable consulting their chain of command or they do not have any clinical need for behavioral health, they are able to access other avenues of support.

    Confidentiality is important for any Soldier that is not comfortable discussing a personal matter with members of their unit.

    Chaplains provide non-denominational counseling to Soldiers and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If Soldiers would like to speak to someone of their own denomination, chaplains have the ability to pair them with whoever they would feel most comfortable.

    For service members and other beneficiaries that prefer nonspiritual and confidential counseling, they can visit with Military and Family Life Counselors. According to Military One Source, the MFLC program supports service members, their Families and survivors with non-medical counseling worldwide, which include relationships, crisis intervention, stress management, grief, occupational and other individual and Family issues. Service members are able to pick the time and location of the meeting, as long as there are no high risk factors and the sessions remain confidential. High risk factors could include suicidal ideations or threats to harm others.

    “In order to create a ready and resilient Army we must focus on the Family as well as the Soldier,” Ragukonis said. “We know that it may be difficult for Service Members to be successful in their work environment, if there are a lot of struggles going on at home.”

    Military Families face unique challenges. They may struggle with issues such as their own employment needs, reintegration, and pressures of managing parenting and finances while a loved one is deployed or away for training. With the exception of child abuse, domestic abuse and duty to warn situations, services are private and confidential.

    To support military Families facing these or additional challenges, MFLC provides short-term, non-medical counseling services to service members and their Families at no cost. It provides psycho-education to help military service members and their Families understand the impact of deployments, Family reunions following deployments and other stresses related to military life. MFLC can also provide services on or off of military installations and serve couples and Families as well as individuals.

    MFLC services are available at installation Military and Family Support Centers. If an installation is not nearby, military service providers and leaders can request non-medical counseling services for unit events at

    For those who may need a more clinical approach, they have the option to talk to a medically-trained professional. Mental health officials note that neither rank nor service status can preclude the need for support.

    Winn Army Community Hospital offers many behavioral health services for Soldiers and their Families. They provide psychiatric, clinical psychology and social work services to maintain the mental health of active duty military personnel, their Families and other beneficiaries. The various clinics include Child and Family, Embedded Behavioral Health Clinic, Family Advocacy Program, Intensive Out-Patient and Multi-Disciplinary.

    “It all starts with creating a culture of care and respect, which begins at home and carries over into the workplace,” Ragukonis said. “We have to build friendships and relationships so that we can notice the signs when someone shows cause for concern. The more we form relationships, the more we can notice the signs.”

    In addition to the many services offered by the hospital, each brigade is also equipped with their own embedded Behavioral Health Clinics to assist Soldiers.

    Lastly, Soldiers always have the option of using their local emergency room or contacting 911 for any medical emergency they may be experiencing.

    Kay said she has personally seen the consequences of not noticing the signs before it was too late; she wished she could have informed her lost loved one about the available resources in hopes of decreasing the chances of him losing his life.

    The Marne Division and the entire Army strive to provide stable support networks for Soldiers to process any trauma, past or present.

    Additional Resources:
    Military One Source Coronavirus

    Connected Health Stress Relief Tips

    Military Kids Connect



    Date Taken: 10.18.2021
    Date Posted: 10.18.2021 14:30
    Story ID: 407473
    Location: FORT STEWART, GA, US 

    Web Views: 257
    Downloads: 0