Story and photo by Spc. Nathan Thome
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
Soldiers gained a new tool to remain Iron Horse Strong, after a ribbon cutting ceremony officially opened the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Embedded Behavioral Health Team 1 clinic on Fort Carson, Aug. 6.
“This building is a symbol; it’s a symbol of the leadership’s commitment to the behavioral health of our Soldiers, and the close-working relationship that we have with all the incredible members of Embedded Behavioral Health Team 1,” said Maj. Collin Brooks, executive officer, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
The building supports an important function in the Army.
The Fort Carson Embedded Behavioral Health Service began in 2009, with the intention of uniting the medical mission of ensuring the fighting strength, with the command mission of fighting and winning America’s wars, said U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Jennifer Card, EBHT1 chief.
“These combined missions were joined together with the introduction of the Embedded Behavioral Health System of care at Fort Carson,” said Card. “As these services flourished in providing care for all of the 4th Inf. Div. brigades, the Department of the Army determined that the Fort Carson model for behavioral health services would become the standard for the force in 2011.”
The clinic is the latest, and for now, the final freestanding clinic to support the 4th Inf. Div.
“This clinic is strictly for covering 1st Brigade Soldiers,” said Card. “There are five behavioral health teams on post, and this is the fifth and final building.”
Prior to the clinic, 1st ABCT received care out of the Mountain Post Behavioral Health Clinic, and 4th Brigade Support Battalion’s company operations facility.
“This is our lobby, and it’s much bigger than where we were before; it was determined that where we were wasn’t going to be big or sufficient enough for all of us, so we got our own building,” said Card. “There are 13 provider offices in each team building. We have a multi-disciplinary team made up of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurse case managers and site-bound technicians.”
The new building was a joint effort between the 1st ABCT and the Medical Department Activity, with a placement of the building in the 1ABCT footprint.
Card said the team has already improved behavioral health outcomes, allowing more treatment for Soldiers, and has assisted with the reduction of the stigma of receiving behavioral health care. She said that Soldiers began treatment in the new facility that morning.
Stacey Vowels, medical support assistant, EBHT1, used to work at the Mountain Post Behavioral Health Clinic before getting assigned to the new clinic.
“I’m actually really excited about the move; we finally get our own building, it’s a different environment,” said Vowels. “We work really well together as a team, and we’re right next to our brigade. We have great people, and they go above and beyond to get the Soldiers the help that they need.”
Sgt. Danisha St. Ann, behavioral health noncommissioned officer, Company B, 10th Combat Support Hospital, works with Vowels, and is one of the only Soldiers working at the clinic.
“I screen patients for mental conditions, and help them in any way that I can,” said St. Ann. “I’ve been doing this for two years, and I love doing it. I’ve always done customer service, and this is the best customer service job in the Army.”
St. Ann said the transfer from the main behavioral health building to the clinic she now works at mainly benefits the Soldiers.
“The transfer from the main building to this building is for the Soldiers, to be closer to their area, where they don’t have to drive or find a ride to the main location; it’s convenient,” St. Ann said. “The 1st ABCT Soldiers can be seen here and feel more comfortable in their own area.”
By teaching them coping skills, as well as getting them to admit to what’s going on and seek help, St. Ann said she can affect the lives of Soldiers and their Families.
“I don’t believe in that stigma, because if you’re not healthy both mentally and physically, then how are you going to be able to perform well at your job?” she said. “It doesn’t matter what rank you are, I’ve seen all ranks come in here; it doesn’t matter who you are, if you need help, you should get help.”
1st ABCT has a team downrange that is building up its own resiliency center, which should be open in the next month. EBHT1 currently coordinates with the downrange team on a weekly basis to manage different behavioral health issues with Soldiers who may be coming back early, or are preparing for redeployment.