Chapel and Mental Health provide DMH to ASAB

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affaris

One way or another the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone.

Individuals across the globe are handling the same crisis and the same unique set of stressors that come attached to it.

The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing chapel and mental health offices have worked together to stand up the Disaster Mental Health (DMH) program, enabling Airmen across Ali Al Salem Air Base options to seek the resources needed to cope during the new circumstances of COVID-19.

“Disaster Mental Health is an integrated approach to take care of the whole person in the event of a disaster,” said Captain Adam Roe, 386th AEW Chaplain. “Whenever you have a disaster you’re going to have people dealing with clear mental health issues. Our role in that is to provide whatever the individual needs in the moment.”

Staff Sgt. David Ree, 386th Expeditionary Medical Group mental health technician explained that DMH is a program commanders have at their fingertips in times of crisis, whether they’re natural disasters, deaths within squadrons or a global pandemic.

“A large part if DMH is coordination,” said Ree. “We’ve been fortunate in being lock-step with the chapel since we got off the plane. This has made reaching out to units much easier because the chaplains are embedded into the units. If they see a trend in the units they’re able to let us know, and vice-versa.”

The utilization of the DMH program has been quite unique during this COVID-19 pandemic, as DMH is generally a targeted response to issues to respond to matters at all echelons.

“To help mitigate the stress everyone is feeling from COVID-19, we’ve been allowed to stand up indefinitely for anyone impacted in some way, shape or form,” said Ree. “We want to make sure people have knowledge of our resources, the chapel’s resources and others we push, like Military One Source. They have the ability to use those resources without fear that it will appear in their record.”

Traditionally an Airman would see a Primary Care Provider and be referred to Mental Health, approaching the front desk or calling and asking for an appointment, said Ree. These appointments would normally then be documented in a member's medical record, but DMH takes away that barrier in hopes individuals will speak with a professional without a stigma attached.

Airmen can simply walk up to the front desk, ask for mental health services and have a tailored-effort based on their responses.

In coordination with mental health’s efforts, the Chapel has been focusing on putting messages out on social media to the ASAB community.

“Our focus has been more on putting out the hope piece of it,” said Roe. “Moving toward a mindset that is more deliberate and positive daily, rather than allowing circumstances to dictate how you are going to think or feel over the course of a day.”

Chaplains are going specifically to the squadrons as they need attention, in addition to the chapel always being available to Airmen, said Roe.

“COVID-19 is a very abnormal situation, there is no right or wrong way to feel,” said Ree. “The biggest things that you can do are self-checks and checking on each other. What makes situations more stressful is how you respond.”

The goal of DMH is to ensure that a crisis isn’t compounded with more crisis as a result of coping, said Ree. It’s important for individuals to be aware of maladaptive coping mechanisms like isolating themselves or decreasing engagement in their hobbies or goals.

The goal is to provide individuals with the ability to cope and feel you’re a whole healthy functioning human being, not just for the Air Force, but for yourself.

The DMH also reminds you that Military OneSource can provide you an array of support from mental resilience, to financial advice, to family counseling. Airmen can visit the clinic or call the mainline for WhatsApp information or visiting their website at