Psychological Health Advocacy Program serves Citizen Airmen, families

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Luke Johnson
  • 943rd Rescue Group

The Air Force Reserve Psychological Health Advocacy Program provides a free, confidential path to resources and services for reservists and their loved ones.

“We can be viewed as a one stop shop for reservists and their families,” said Marty Cook, a PHAP outreach specialist. “We can point them in the right direction or connect them to the proper place for resources they may need. It’s our goal to make sure that we can direct them to the resources to help them before things get out of hand.”

One way PHAP representatives promote it is via 15 or more training events sponsored annually around the country by the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, which assists reservists and their loved ones in maintaining resiliency before and after deployments.

At most Yellow Ribbon events, PHAP staff members lead a “Courage to Care” breakout session in which they discuss the deployment cycle and how it affects Reserve Citizen Airmen and those closest to them. During the session, they discuss strategies families can use to help them through the deployment cycle.

“In the past, we have had people come up to us during these sessions crying because they are under so much stress, and they don’t know what to do.” said registered nurse Karen Orcutt, a PHAP case facilitator. “Sometimes, we have to refer them to a counseling room for some extra help.”

Once reservists are referred to a resource for assistance, the PHAP staff will follow them through the steps until their issue is resolved.

“Once we set up a case, we don’t just stop at that,” Cook said. “We will continue to follow up with them to make sure they got the information they need, to see how it is working and see if they need any additional services, or if we need to recommend some alternative resources. We’ll stick with them for as long as they need us.”

Orcutt said most reservists can’t easily access military resources as they live far away from the base where they serve.

“Part of my job is to conduct research in the local communities where reservists live to locate the best resources that are closest to where they live,” she said.

PHAP offers a 24-hour message line at 1-866-417-0707. More information about the program can be found on our page.

Now in its 11th year, the Yellow Ribbon began in 2008 following a congressional mandate for the Department of Defense to assist reservists and National Guard members in maintaining resiliency as they transition between their military and civilian roles. Each year, the Air Force Reserve program trains more than 7,000 Reserve Citizen Airmen and those closest to them in education benefits, health care, retirement information and more.