Providing Front-Line Psychological Support Services in a Military Training Environment: Implementation and Results,
PATTERSON COMMUNITY HOSPITAL FORT MONMOUTH NJ
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The current posture of our military forces provides limited opportunities for the mental health professional to practice the important skills needed in times of mobilization. The majority of trial-runs that test the skills of our combat troops and their support personnel occur during mock exercises or intensive training. One such environment occurs annually at The United States Military Academy during new cadet orientation or as it is better known, Beast Barracks. The intensity and duration of this period have many of the same effects on participants as those found in other rigorous military training settings and even some combat situations. This paper outlines the steps taken to provide the new cadet with psychological support and the chain of command with immediate feedback on individuals and issues. A network of trained Peer Counselors , who provide unit level support, has become the cornerstone of this counseling and stress inoculation effort and their role is reviewed. Statistics regarding the use of mental health resources and the incidence of psychological problems are presented as a source of comparison to historical data. Difference in these statistics are discussed in light of this unique training environment.