HomeNewsArticle Display

Mental health: To go or not to go

Considering the demands facing the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise, Creech Air Force Base, Nev., has formed their own Human Performance Team to meet the needs of those supporting RPA operations at this one of a kind deployed-in-place location. The team consists of an operational psychologist, an operational physiologist, a flight medicine doctor and the chaplain corps, who together treat the five areas of wellness for all Creech AFB Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay)

Considering the demands facing the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise, Creech Air Force Base, Nev., has formed their own Human Performance Team to meet the needs of those supporting RPA operations at this one of a kind deployed-in-place location. The team consists of an operational psychologist, an operational physiologist, a flight medicine doctor and the chaplain corps, who together treat the five areas of wellness for all Creech AFB Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay)

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)

The clinic buildings themselves aren't scary, but add the words ‘mental health,’ and most people will avoid them like they contain tigers on the loose. That's why the 432nd Wing Human Performance Team was stood up -- to alleviate that stigma, provide help and have easily accessible trained mental health professionals.

Some service members might have a false impression of the mental health clinic as a dark hole, where clearances are lost and careers are ruined. Capt. David, a 432nd Wing remotely piloted aircraft pilot, had this very concern as he prepared to make an appointment.

In the previous months, David battled depression on a daily basis, and his motivation slowly wilted away until he found it a struggle to even find the energy to enjoy playtime with his children.

"I love my kids with all my heart," he said. "It just got to a point where I was under so much stress and felt so depressed. I didn't want to do much of anything."

David’s troubles began during a deployment. As if being away from his family, missing birthdays and holidays wasn't enough, he faced problems with his daily duties.

"While on deployment it felt as if I wasn't a part of the team and while I was doing great work, for some reason I had a negative reputation,” he said. “On top of that, I was having some marital issues.”

His frustrations seemed to follow him home, opportunities to make instructor pilot or flight commander passed him by and he saw junior officers with less experience fill these slots instead.

"I felt I was getting ignored for no reason," he said. "I tried my best, I did great work, but I was being bad-mouthed and I didn't know why."

Everything seemed to keep piling up: the daily struggles of shift work, lack of sleep and time away from family, combined with a million other things. His mind started wandering to a dark place.

"I thought about committing suicide," he said. "I couldn't do that to my family. I also remembered hearing that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I knew deep down my feelings of despair would subside. For the time of despair, it really hurt."

David and his wife decided he needed to get help immediately. While he was still hesitant for fear of career repercussions, he decided that was the least of his worries.

"I finally had to accept that I was most likely going to lose my clearance and not be able to fly,” he said. “At that point I knew I just needed help."

David sought out the chaplain for guidance, where he learned about the other services of the human performance team. The HPT is unique to Creech Air Force Base, and is comprised of the chaplain corps, an operational psychologist, an operational physiologist and a flight medicine doctor. The HPT aims to help Airmen in the spiritual, psychological, physical, emotional and intellectual areas of wellness.

The chaplain determined David needed psychological help and referred him to the operational psychologist. David met with him for weekly sessions, but, ultimately, it wasn't enough.

"(The psychologist) recommended I go to the mental health clinic," he said. "I was still really nervous. I really didn't want to be put on (duty not to include flying) status."

After the nerve-wracking visit to the clinic, David was diagnosed with depression and his fear of being DNIF became a reality.

"When they put me on DNIF, I was angry," he said. "I was angry at the chaplain, the psychologist, just everyone."

While he was no longer on flying status, David retained his clearance and was transferred from his flying squadron to the 432nd Operations Support Squadron as the chief of operational planning and exercises.

His frustration and uneasiness started to subside. His new assignment gave him the opportunity to support the operations rather than fly them.

"The change gave me a much needed break," he said. "Now I work a normal day shift with weekends and holidays off, which let me spend some much needed quality time with my wife and kids."

The new mission, coupled with his ongoing treatment, brought about a positive change.

"I felt refreshed; I have more self-confidence, self-esteem, and I'm more sociable and motivated at work," he said. "I even won company grade officer of the quarter for my squadron and I'm getting praise from my bosses. It's been a total change."

If not for the advice and counseling he received from the HPT, as well as the support from his family, it's possible he wouldn't be here to see this positive change in his career.

"I was very hesitant (about) following the advice from the HPT to go to mental health," he said. "In the end, they were right and I'm very thankful to them and my family."

In light of his new success, David talks about the HPT and shares his experiences to help others who may be going through similar struggles.

"The HPT is a great tool for Creech and ultimately the entire Air Force," he said. "Having all of the members together in one team and each one having high-level clearances, means they can go into the squadrons and talk to Airmen about how they're doing. They're unique because we're unique."

David also wants Airmen to know that even if they're on a medication, they can apply for a waiver to get back to flying.

"I personally know a pilot who is on a depression medication and was able to get back to flying," he said.

"If anyone is going through hard times and needs help, don't hesitate, because in most cases your career won't be affected and you will actually improve it," he said

David is now back on track both in his personal and professional life and currently has a waiver in the works to get back on flying status.

"I'm so thankful for everyone who has been there to help me and I'm really excited to get back to flying," he said.

Engage

Twitter
.@146AirliftWing Airmen administer #COVID19 vaccines to military dependents at the Channel Islands Air National Gua… https://t.co/1Zq9vmf9w2
Twitter
RT @AFSpecOpsCmd: Global coordination with its finest 💥 During HIMARS and HIRAIN training, Air Commandos and @USMC successfully proved the…
Twitter
Today is National #FormerPOWRecognitionDay. This day honors the captured wartime service members who eventually cam… https://t.co/pIRIXAS6f7
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: #TeamWhiteman welcomed Acting Secretary Roth today, where the base’s leadership & #Airmen showcased the unique capabilit…
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: .@TXMilitary Airmen with the @149FW Med Group operate a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. T…
Twitter
Demonstrating the United States' commitment to providing #AirPower, stability and support around the globe at a mom… https://t.co/x8OLgaJmqO
Twitter
The Air Force released its new mission statement: To fly, fight, and win … airpower anytime, anywhere. Read more: https://t.co/HalC2dX2kh
Twitter
The #AirForce's new mission statement is: To fly, fight, and win … Airpower anytime, anywhere. This change emphasiz… https://t.co/akmi7PLwyd
Twitter
The @AF_Academy's Scott McMurray performs a floor routine during the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championshi… https://t.co/BQJHzxq25g
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Looking forward to the discussions at today’s Army/Air Force Warfighter Talks. When it comes to national defense, collabo…
Twitter
The Department of the #AirForce is working to further improve living conditions in privatized housing for its… https://t.co/Kyafyb5pXo
Twitter
“As we continue to accelerate change, we have to think outside the box on how we train." - Capt. Dmytro Pichkur, 61… https://t.co/sLkVA5ctCP
Twitter
“In order to accelerate the change we need in the #AirForce, Team Edwards understands that no one can do this alone… https://t.co/OH0xBzS3YY
Twitter
The @AF_Academy is committed to developing leaders of character. Their graduates have always inspired others. Soon,… https://t.co/rjSmH70SN8
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: #success! This is the 6th flight of the Valkyrie for @AFResearchLab & the first time the payload bay doors have been opened…
Twitter
Don't miss this event LIVE at 3 p.m.! https://t.co/CFkBHJMCsi
Twitter
.@TeamTyndall's SrA Can Liu deployed to support the #COVID19 vaccination efforts in New York. She is the only Airma… https://t.co/LIfeJ48lNL
Twitter
The newest aircraft in the #AirForce fleet has been christened the F-15EX Eagle II. The Eagle II includes the lates… https://t.co/4TIA52fk06
Twitter
Congratulations to the Royal Danish Air Force on the delivery of their first F-35 today! Our Danish friends have be… https://t.co/Gg4fduigTg
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,340,470
Follow Us