MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.. --
Life as a service member can be quite stressful, especially in the Marine Corps. Deployments, frequent training and even the stress of balancing family life with military obligation, all weigh in on the individual Marine at one point or another and can sometimes overwhelm the service member to the point where they need a helping hand.
Division Psychiatry helps 2nd Marine Division Marines and sailors who need a higher level of medical assistance for stress-related and other mental health disorders to get the service member back in the fight.
“We get a variety of things – mood conditions like depression, … anxiety conditions, panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, (post-traumatic stress disorder) or combat stress,” said Rochester, N.Y., native Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Webster, the psychiatrist at Division Psychiatry, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in 1998 and 1999. “Not everyone who comes out of theater that’s having symptoms has PTSD. Some may have a couple symptoms of combat stress so we’ll work with that too, so you don’t need to have a PTSD diagnosis for us to treat you; we’re going to treat all those other things, too.”
The clinic helps Marines and sailors through therapy—both group and individual – and medication, if needed, to help return struggling service members to functionality in their daily lives. Setbacks are common during therapy, but the key is that progress is being made, which often comes gradually over time, said Saluda, S.C., native Petty Officer 1st Class Jazmin Davis, the psychiatric technician at Division Psychiatry.
“It can be a continuous thing; it might go on for a while. Some people move on to their next command and continue to have therapy – there’s nothing wrong with that – but ultimately it’s that functioning (piece),” said Davis. “If the therapy provides (the ability) for that person (to function), then that’s what we’re looking for.”
Approximately 250 service members from 2nd Marine Division received some level of care from Division Psychiatry last month at the main office so the staff at the office keeps busy. However, in late 2011, Division Psychiatry launched its Operational Stress Control and Readiness program, which has expanded psychiatry services to 2nd, 6th, and 8th Marine Regiments. These OSCAR assets even deploy with the regiments to which they are assigned, allowing for a more intimate relationship with their Marines and sailors.
“So now, say you’re attached to 2nd (Marine) Regiment, you’ve got an asset right there who is going to deploy with you, be with you, know you,” said Davis. “When we’re on deployment, if you’ve got something coming on, you come to me, ‘hey Doc, remember we were talking about such and such,’ and we can continue from where we left off.”
Marines and sailors can be seen by Division Psychiatry and its subordinates by getting a referral from their battalion aid stations. Marines can receive counseling from other services such as chaplains, Marine Corps Community Services and Military One Source. What’s ultimately important is that a service member gets help from somewhere if they begin to feel overwhelmed by their problems. It is especially imperative that a Marine reaches out if they he has thoughts of self-harm.
“The two important things are one, it can get better and two, there really are people who do care about you. It’s just a matter of reaching out,” said Webster, who earned her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in Rochester, N.Y. in 2002. “We have a number of programs here, we have them at the hospital, we have them through MCCS, and, of course, there’s military one source – there are more programs available than you can shake a stick at here.”
Marines interested in resilience education can access the MCCS website at http://www.mccslejeune.com/health/index.html.