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PHAP makes getting help easier

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Brittney Snider began performing medical procedures on her dolls as a young child and started volunteering at her local hospital at age 13.

“My mom said when I cared for my babies, I used to put band aids and fake IVs in them,” said Snider. “I just liked helping people, caring for people who are sick and seeing them get better.

I don’t know, I guess it was my gift, my calling.

After four years as an Air Force medical technician and 12 years in nursing, four of those as an Air Force Reserve officer, Snider is using her skills to help Air Force reservists as a Registered Nurse Case Facilitator for the Air Force Reserve Command’s Psychological Health Advocacy Program North Region, headquartered here.

PHAP provides all AFRC reservists and their families with the information they need to deal with life’s stressors, regardless of what the stressor is or how long it takes.

“PHAP provides individualized care to Airmen and their families through one-on-one contacts — phone, in-person and email — tailoring each need to available resources,” said Maj. Laura Haver, PHAP Contracting Officer Representative. “The staff will maintain contact for as long as there is a need from the member or family. They also do morale calls for those with deployed family members and friends, as well as for family members of those Airmen who are heading to Basic Military Training.

Snider says that psychological stress is any stress that is causing an issue. In the past, the PHAP office here has assisted in finding elderly care, lawn care for spouses staying at home while the reservist is deployed, pet care, and CDC assistance, while also assisting those who may have more serious mental illnesses or substance dependencies.

As a RN Case Facilitator, Snider ensures that clients are brought into the program properly and works with them to “peel back the onion,” as she calls it. Snider says that it’s important to talk in-depth with clients to find out not only what the immediate issue is, but what could be underlying causes in order to find a complete solution. Snider then links clients with the proper resources and provides follow-up care until the issue is cleared up.

“It’s different for everybody, but if it’s something that’s continuous and doesn’t get better, you shouldn’t wait, always ask,” said Snider. “Sometimes we assume that things are just going to get better and not do anything. And, sometimes it takes doing things to get them better. We’re going to be the people that are going to be besides you doing it, so you don’t have to do it alone.

The PHAP office here opens roughly 200 cases a year and reaches thousands more through outreach, according to Pamela Boyd, the PHAP Outreach Specialist here. Boyd, a former active-duty military spouse for 20 years and current Air Force reservist, travels throughout the office’s region, which covers an area from Minnesota to Missouri across to Virginia and up to Maine, visiting the 12 reserve wings the North region covers, ensuring Airmen are aware of PHAP services.
“We provide resources for Air Force reservists and their families within a comfortable driving distance of where they live,” said Boyd. “Because a lot of reservists live 50 miles or more outside an Air Force Reserve wing, we go within their area where they live and find resources for them.”

Snider says clients have ranged from new Airmen all the way up to wing commanders. When a commander was working through some professional issues, PHAP found a counselor who was a past commander to assist. Snider says that finding a counselor who could relate to what her client was going through worked well. She says that level of focus in finding resources is what has made PHAP so successful; Snider estimates her success rate at near 100%.
PHAP services are strictly confidential and, because it’s contractor-provided, outside of the military chain of command. Boyd says it’s imperative for Airmen to seek help before issues get out of control.

“One of the things that I tell people is some issues, whether it be alcohol or mental health, when it’s a small problem, before it starts to affect your family or career, you want to talk to somebody,” said Boyd. “Because, that small thing can turn into this big ugly monster that wipes out your family, demolishes your career, and not only your military career but your civilian career. What’s worse? Getting that assistance and [counselors] finding out or losing everything?”

All of PHAP’s services are free and Boyd says they do their best to connect clients with free resources. She also says any military or family member in need from any service can contact them and they will assist in finding the person the proper point of contact for their branch.

AFRC PHAP can be reached at (937) 656-1709.

PHAP is part of the AFRC's Yellow Ribbon program. Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of reservists and their families by connecting them with resources before and after deployments. It began in 2008 following a congressional mandate for the Department of Defense to assist reservists and National Guard members in maintaining resiliency as they transition between their military and civilian roles. Each year, the Air Force Reserve program trains 7,000 reservists and family members in education benefits, health care, retirement information and more.