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Ensuring Team Kadena's resiliency

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Marasky
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Earlier this year Gen. Paul V. Hester, former Commander Pacific Air Forces, designated 2007 as the year of the "PACAF Resilient Warrior."

Here at Kadena Air Base, members of the 18th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Clinic took the opportunity provided by this week's local operational readiness exercise to practice ensuring Team Kadena's resilient spirit.

"Military Mental Health is trying to move forward with our processes," said Lt. Col. Mark Hubner, a psychiatrist with the mental health clinic. "We're doing this so that we can really play an integral part in creating this Resilient Warrior concept."

The exercise allowed the mental health clinic to focus on combat stressors that they wouldn't normally see at other bases.

"I really think being here at Kadena we are presented with the opportunity for different scenarios that we might not see stateside," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Sharp, a mental health technician with the clinic.

Base exercises are one of those opportunities.

"We do things here like 'fighting the base' and noncombatant evacuation operations," he said. "Those are additional things that you might not see at other locations."

Common scenarios the clinic was presented with during the exercise included post-traumatic stress disorder, people having issues wearing their gas masks for prolonged periods of time and individuals struggling with fallen comrades.

Each of the various scenarios was acted out by a role-player so that clinic Airmen could practice dealing with each situation realistically.

One major concern the clinic focused on was combat fatigue, which can often be a result of a lack of or disrupted sleep.

"There are a lot of the different or more advanced views of combat fatigue or combat stress," said Colonel Hubner. "The emphasis is getting people back to their units as quickly as possible."

One of the best ways to treat combat fatigue and combat stress is what is referred to as "three hots and a cot." A lot of the people just need to be taken offline for a couple of days, a couple of days of good sleep and some good food, a shower, and then they can return to their unit, he said.

"We definitely need to lean forward and be proactive with our practices," said Colonel Hubner. "If we just wait for it to happen and to come to us, then we've lost the edge."

The members of Team Kadena's Mental Health Clinic took every opportunity during this exercise to improve their practices to help ensure a healthier Air Force.

"Mental Health is a very important part of modern warfighting," said Colonel Hubner. "Resilient Warrior is a very important part of the Air Force, and Mental Health can really help foster that entire concept."