PHAP offers free, confidential services to AFRC reservists, family members

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Keith
  • 624th Regional Support Group Public Affairs
A representative from the Psychological Health Advocacy Program (PHAP) at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., spoke to members of the 624th Regional Support Group here during commander's call, March 8, 2014, about the mental health referral services available to Air Force reservists and their families.  


Karen Orcutt, a registered nurse and case facilitator, surprised the reservists when she began her presentation with an attention-grabbing experiment that made everyone laugh. She tossed a balloon to a volunteer and told her to keep it in the air. The first balloon, said Orcutt, represented the reservist's military commitment.


The volunteer, Senior Master Sgt. Patricia Kawa'a, superintendent of Force Health Management with the 624th Aeromedical Staging Squadron here, kept the lone balloon suspended in the air. Orcutt said that demonstrated how easily a reservist can handle their military career.


The challenge for Kawa'a came when Orcutt tossed more balloons at her, each one representing life events that a reservist often has to juggle--marriage, children, civilian job, deployment, illness, financial problems, divorce, etc. As much as Kawa'a tried to manage the balloons, she found it impossible to stop them from hitting the floor.


"Being a resilient Airman doesn't mean going through life without experiencing difficulty and distress," said Orcutt.


Even though everyone laughed with delight as Kawa'a struggled to keep the balloons in the air, Orcutt's point was no laughing matter.


"When reservists and family members find themselves in this situation, free help is just a phone call away with the Psychological Health Advocacy Program," said Orcutt. "Our resources act like Wingmen and help relieve you of some of your stresses. And, the 'balloons' are taken away," she said.


Tech. Sgt. Archie McClellan, the 624th RSG's representative for the Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Program who arranged Orcutt's visit, said the purpose was to familiarize unit members with PHAP's resources before attending a pre-deployment or post-deployment Yellow Ribbon event. That way they would be ready to consult with PHAP at the event, already knowing how PHAP could help them and their families throughout the deployment cycle, he said.


At the Yellow Ribbon event, PHAP can address a reservist's specific needs.


"Every individual is different," said McClellan. An example, he said, would be a unit member who is a single parent and knows their child will have a hard time functioning without them.


McClellan said, "That's where PHAP comes in and says, 'We have the resources to help your child cope while you are gone, and to help them reintegrate with you when you come off of the deployment.'"


Orcutt said PHAP wants to build a culture of support for psychological health where prevention and resiliency are part of normal military life. "If you pay attention and feed these areas of your life you will be healthy," she said.


PHAP provides assessment, referral, and case management for free.


For more information, go to PHAP's website at PHAP has a 24-hour call center at 888-810-2400, available for reservists and their spouses, children, and parents. PHAP is also on Facebook (AFRC PHAP) and Twitter (PHAP).


Karen Orcutt, case facilitator for PHAP's west region which includes Hawaii and Guam, can be reached at 707-424-8894, Travis Air Force Base, Calif.