JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
Mike, a civilian employee, needed help to cope with some personal and professional issues. He self-referred to the Employee Assistance Program at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
"I have been diagnosed with depression," he said quietly.
Mike suffers from something called survivor's guilt. He said he was depressed because even though he retired from the military after 30 years, he never served in combat.
There were other issues weighing on Mike. His wife is a breast cancer survivor and he has a child with autism. He has been dealing with an aging parent and the loss of a beloved pet.
He was also taking prescription medications for chronic back pain.
Mike realized he had a problem he couldn't deal with alone, so he contacted Steve Henry, an Employee Assistance Program coordinator at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
"It was the only safe and non-threatening place where I had no fear of reprisal," Mike said.
In the beginning, Mike saw Henry on a daily basis.
"Looking back I was probably taking the medication more then I should have," Mike said. "But I legitimized it by telling myself that if a doctor prescribed it, I could take it.
"Steve was able to talk to me about that. He was able to help get me off the prescription pills and help me arrange for other professional counseling," Mike said.
Michelle's supervisor thought she had a problem managing her anger in the workplace and was taking her stress out on her co-workers.
When she first went to see Henry, she said she wasn't happy about being sent there.
"I was sitting on the edge of my seat, all tense and shaking my legs back and forth," she said.
"Mr. Henry took it upon himself to find the right words to calm me down," she remembered. "When I walked out of there, I was laughing and having a good time."
"I went in not knowing what they had to offer," Michelle said. "When I got there, Mr. Henry explained what the program was all about. I just kind of opened up and told him what had happened."
Michelle had a confrontation with one of her co-workers and said she felt they were cornering her and not giving her a straight answer.
"Mr. Henry was able to help me out with my stress levels, my anger issues and my frustration," she explained.
Henry helped Michelle realize she can't control what other people think or say and how they act and feel.
"I can only control myself," she said. "By speaking to him, I've been able to be more at ease when an issue arises.
Michelle's supervisor also went to talk to Henry.
"I think we have a better understanding of each other now," Michelle said.
Now she refers co-workers to EAP because she thinks it will help them.
The EAP provides civilian employees assistance with issues such as stress management, marriage and family counseling, substance abuse, depression, dealing with loss and interpersonal problems with co-workers.
Any JBSA employee can utilize these services at JBSA-Fort Fort Sam Houston whether they are Army, Air Force or Navy. That includes retired civilian employees and their spouses, on a space- available basis.
"I don't turn anybody away," Henry said.
"The program is strictly confidential. I strongly urge people to talk to their supervisor and let them know what's going on because their supervisor can also provide resources to help them."
"My responsibility is the safety and security of the individual and to the area where they work," he said.
EAP also offers short-term one-on-one counseling on job performance.
"Regardless of why you go there, whether it is for a serious incident or you're trying to manage your stress, the program is excellent," said Amy, another civilian employee.
"It really helps balance the workplace and your home life. It's holistic; it should be part of a wellness program."
JBSA-Fort Sam Houston employees can call 221-0133 to speak to a counselor.
JBSA-Randolph and JBSA-Lackland have a similar program; however the services are only available to appropriated fund civilian employees and counseling is conducted at VESA Health's satellite office at 10010 San Pedro Ave., Suite 610.
Counseling is provided in private, confidential sessions where employees can be seen individually, as a couple or as a family.
"I provide individual and family counseling services," said Graci Ortiz, licensed professional counselor. "They get five free sessions per employee and per family member."
JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph appropriated fund employees can call 213-6454 to set up an appointment.
"The patient calls in and gives me their name, telephone number and their office symbol. Then I call civilian personnel to verify they are an employee of JBSA-Lackland or JBSA-Randolph," Ortiz said.
"Once their employment is verified, I call the patient back and I start services with them."
At the end of the five free sessions, patients can continue services under their health insurance and there may be a co-payment.
The JBSA-Fort Sam Houston EAP website offers employees and supervisors tips and information on several topics at http://www.samhouston.army.mil/hra/asap/EAP_Training.aspx.
(Note: Employees' names have been changed to protect their privacy.)