Resiliency begins with good psychological health

  • Published
  • By Col. (Dr.) Joseph Lawlor, 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron and Ms. Jennifer Marquez. 445th Airlift Wing Director of Psychological Health
  • 445th Airlift Wing

In these times of uncertainty and constant change Airmen may find themselves struggling to find the resiliency to cope with all that is unfolding before them.

Resiliency is how we “bounce back” from a difficult situation.

In times of stress, our brain may become over stimulated with all of the navigating it needs to accomplish to overcome the presenting difficulty. Suffice it to say that the overstimulation and inability for our brain to retrieve the coping skills it has safe guarded, may manifest into a temporary or permanent mental health diagnosis.

This outcome is not uncommon and unfortunately often goes untreated leading to the detriment of the individual.

Managing brain health is just as important as managing physical health. Brain and physical health are interconnected.

Take a moment to think about times that your body was in pain or tired and the thoughts that you had during those times. Next, take another moment to think of a time when you felt overwhelmed and stressed.

Where did you feel the stress in your body? Do you remember if you had a sudden onset of a headache or stomach pain? See the connection?

If you have some concerns about taking care of your psychological health while being an Airman in the Air Force, don’t.

The Air Force Reserve Command has recognized that Airmen were not seeking treatment due to the fear of being discharged from the Air Force. There have been changes made in medical standards.

In the past, a diagnosis of depression, adjustment disorder, anxiety disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder in a Reservist was disqualifying and required one to undergo a medical board.

A member may continue to serve with these conditions if they are well controlled with counseling or simple medications, don’t require recurrent duty restrictions or hospitalizations, and don’t require a specialist to manage the medications. 

Depression may result in a temporary mobility restriction when starting or changing medication. Depression is still disqualifying for members on flying status and will require a flying waiver.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) must be well controlled and symptoms not reoccur with exposure to the operational/trigger environment.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) may be unsuitable for continued military duty. Members with ADD must demonstrate that they can perform their military duties without medication. If medication is required to perform their duties, they are subject to administrative discharge, not a medical board.

All of these conditions are still disqualifying for members on flying status and will require a flying waiver.

Recent suicide attempts, schizophrenia, and bipolar depression are disqualifying for all Reservists and require a medical board.

Reserve members are required to provide civilian medical documentation to the Reserve Medical Unit (RMU). The RMU Deployment Availability Working Group (DAWG) will perform an annual review of the civilian documentation.

The following resources are available to Airmen:

  • 445th Director of Psychological Health - 937-257-6267
  • 655th DPH – 937-701-1101 or 937-371-0146
  • Psychological Health Advocacy Program– 937-656-2570 or 866-417-0707
  • Crisis Line – 800-273-8255, option 1
  • Military One Source – 800-342-9647
  • 88th Mental Health Clinic – 937-257-6877