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Language-enabled Airmen support mental health initiative with partner nation

  • Published
  • By Mikala McCurry
  • Air Force Culture and Language Center Outreach Team

A team of seven French Language Enabled Airman Program scholars recently partnered with the Defense Institute for Medical Operations to provide language support for a mental health mobile training team in N'Djamena, Chad.

DIMO’s mission is to be the premier provider of security cooperation-focused health education and training that builds strong, resilient, international partnerships. The mental health MTT was part of a multi-phased effort focused on giving military forces in Chad and Nigeria the tools needed to prepare for combat stressors, deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, and return to combat operations.

This MTT emphasized the mission of the ongoing Invisible Wounds Initiative Command Team Campaign launched by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ. Brown, Jr. and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond. This campaign was developed to lead, support, and engage Airmen and Guardians living with invisible wounds, such as cognitive, emotional, or behavioral conditions associated with trauma or serious adverse life events.

Howard Ward, AFCLC director, commended the LEAP scholars for “bridging the gaps in culture and language to help partners with something we all have in common as humans: mental health.”

The LEAP team virtually translated six curriculum documents, equating to nearly 5,000 words, from English to French. A portion of the translation project was divided out to each scholar based on the subject for each day of the event and that scholar’s area of expertise. One scholar served as team lead to collect the presentation slides and scripts for each day and ensure flow and ease of readability.

“The LEAP scholars’ participation was vital to the process; their translation of the curriculum drastically decreased, if not eliminated, the language barrier. This ensures the material is understood by the Chadians and increases the likelihood the material is retained and utilized when needed. LEAP is definitely an asset to the total force,” said Jerome Johnson, DIMO’s (U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Pacific Command) Security Cooperation program manager.

Maj. Marie Gaudreault, French LEAP scholar, participated on the team translating documents for the event and leaned on her knowledge from previous Language Intensive Training events and eMentor courses to complete the project.

“During this translation project, my previous LEAP training helped me recognize what phrases and terms translate well from English to French and which do not,” Gaudreault said. “This helped me create the best product possible at the end of the mission.”

Throughout the project, Gaudreault was amazed to see the Air Force's emphasis on mental health with partner nations.

“I had no idea we were doing things to promote mental health with our partner nations,” she said. “A lot of the time, we take mental health for granted. It’s a big topic in the U.S. as far as making sure service members have access to mental-health resources, so it was nice to see that we are thinking about that when interacting with partners as well.”