By SOF Editor on Wed, 12/16/2009 - 11:19am
An Air Force medical team trained in helping people recover from traumatic events returned from Fort Hood, Texas, after responding to the Nov. 5 shootings, which left 13 people dead and dozens injured.
The Traumatic Stress Response team, led by Maj. Sheila Beville, a 59th Mental Health Squadron social worker from Wilford Hall Medical Center, deployed to Fort Hood, Nov. 8 through Dec. 2. The six-member team was called in to assist with counseling hundreds of Soldiers, first responders, hospital workers, civilians and family members who were directly affected by the impact of the shooting violence.
The Lackland TSR team helped conduct more than 2,100 traumatic stress response debriefings during the 25-day period. They were the only Air Force behavior health group assigned to assist with the counseling. The group worked side-by-side with Army combat stress teams, family life consultants and Army chaplains.
"People felt comfortable talking to us," Major Beville said. "They were willing to open up and share."
TSR debriefings allow individuals affected by a traumatic incident to express their feelings, such as fear, anger, guilt or blame, all normal reactions to a traumatic event.
"Our job is to help them normalize their emotions and understand what symptoms to expect from a traumatic experience. We provide screening, education, psychological first aid and referral for those who may need further help," Major Beville said.
When requested, the TSR team responds to major traumatic events involving loss of life, natural disasters or any incident resulting in traumatic emotional impact on individuals.
"This was an important mission for our team," she said. "It's very rewarding to know that we have helped others take a small step to move forward with their lives. I really think we made a difference. We heard from so many people how much they appreciated us being there."
The team has responded to four other real-world incidents since January ranging from suicides to unexpected deaths of co-workers.
Other team members include Maj. (Dr.) Jeffrey Lammers, a psychiatrist; Maj. Wendy Cole, a mental health nurse practitioner; Maj. (Dr.) Rena Nicholas, a psychologist; and Staff Sgt. David Brandon and Senior Airman Brian Machi, mental health technicians.