Counsellors help keep a strong mindset


Special to the Altus Times



Air Force Capt. Karen Harmon, 97th Medical Operations Squadron Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager and Airman 1st Class Jacob Cote, 97th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician on Altus Air Force Base Aug. 10. Mental health efforts saves the careers of airmen by helping them with their personal issues.


Courtesy photo | Airman Jackson N. Haddon

ALT081916 Military mindset

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. —

There are many factors that can be taxing on a person’s state of mind; it can be everyday stresses, witnessing a traumatic event or difficulty overcoming past issues.

There are many reasons people may want or need to seek mental help. Whether it is stopping a problem before it starts, or helping an ongoing issue, the 97th Medical Operations Squadron is always ready to lend a hand.

While life has regular amounts of stress there are times when help is needed.

“You should seek help anytime you’re having an issue that impairs your ability to function,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Michelle Rodriguez, 97th MDOS mental health flight commander. “In addition to the mental health flight, there are also counselling services available through the Military Family Life Consultants, the chapel and Military One Source.”

While it may seem to some like getting help will reflect negatively on them to their leaders, that is not the case.

“Leaders want their Airmen to seek help,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jamie Ropp, 97th MDOS NCO in charge of the Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program. “You don’t even have to go to your command, you can just tell them, ‘Hey I have to go to the Medical Group.”

Talking to a chaplain or a mental health physician may seem like a career ender for some, but Rodriguez knows that isn’t true.

“It is a very small percentage of people who walk into mental health that end up getting a recommendation that they are not fit for duty,” said Rodriguez. “But there are many of people who come into our clinic whose symptoms are interfering with their ability to perform their jobs. It may be for some that they aren’t sleeping well and they are reporting to work late. Maybe they are snapping at people because of increased irritability. We can help give them the tools they need to better manage their symptoms. We’re helping save people’s careers, not ending them.”

Sometimes instead of going straight to mental health provider, Airmen may just need to talk to a wingman.

“Be that shoulder to lean on if they need somebody to talk to or if they just need to vent,” said Ropp. “But if they need somebody to talk to like mental health ask them, walk them over and make them feel comfortable. Whether it is us, the chaplain or the Military Family Life Consultants, just get them in the direction they need to go.”

The mental health flight is working hard to make sure Airmen are ready to fly, fight and win. For any Airman who wants to contact mental health or make an appointment, please call (580) 481-5376. For immediate help, call the 24/7 Crisis Prevention Hotline, (1-800) 273-TALK.

Air Force Capt. Karen Harmon, 97th Medical Operations Squadron Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager and Airman 1st Class Jacob Cote, 97th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician on Altus Air Force Base Aug. 10. Mental health efforts saves the careers of airmen by helping them with their personal issues.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_Mindset-RGB.jpgAir Force Capt. Karen Harmon, 97th Medical Operations Squadron Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager and Airman 1st Class Jacob Cote, 97th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician on Altus Air Force Base Aug. 10. Mental health efforts saves the careers of airmen by helping them with their personal issues. Courtesy photo | Airman Jackson N. Haddon

Special to the Altus Times

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