PRINCE SULTAN AIR BASE, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA --
The 378th Air Expeditionary Wing is launching a program called Team Phoenix to help members get the most out of the installation’s helping agencies.
Twenty-two trained personnel from various units across the wing can now help point people to the right helping agency to suit their needs, whether it be Mental Health, Equal Opportunity, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, or the Chapel.
“We know it is sometimes hard for service members to just walk into a helping agency and ask for help” said 1st Lt. Laura Schaefer, 378th AEW Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and Team Phoenix program lead. “The goal is to identify and train peers in their units who can help them in these tough situations and get them to the experts to help with whatever situation they may be dealing with.”
According to Schaefer, the deployed environment can sometimes present unique challenges to military members, making PSAB’s helping agencies vital to mission and personal readiness.
“If members are having difficulty adjusting to the deployed environment, they cannot focus on the mission,” Schaefer said. “Everyone has bad days and problems that they need an extra helping hand to get them through. Resilience is hard to do alone, but we are here to help with whatever anyone needs help with.”
In order to be easily recognizable, the program’s members have blue and yellow tabs on their shoulders. Each person has undergone training and familiarization with each helping agency’s services and capabilities.
The program has a robust number of personnel scattered throughout the base in the hopes they are known personally or are a peer to anyone who may need the help but not want to approach a stranger.
“Sometimes, it’s easier to talk to a peer or a close friend before going to a complete stranger and expressing how you feel,” said Kat Walters, 378th AEW Public Affairs videographer and Team Phoenix member. “Oftentimes, you need reassurance from a familiar face to tell you that it’s okay not to be okay, especially when things in your life aren’t going too great.”
While anyone at PSAB can approach a Team Phoenix member for help or more information, Schaefer noted its important individuals realize certain limitations the members have.
“The Team Phoenix members can assist in a lot of situations,” Schaefer said. “They are members who really care about others and want to help people wherever they are at. However, they do not have confidentiality. They are trusted agents of the helping agencies to point people to certified counselors, confidential victim advocates, or spiritual guidance members.”
While the members do not have legal confidentiality, they do protect people’s privacy if they just need to talk to someone when going through a hard time.
“We all go through our ups and downs in life,” Walters said. “I personally used the helping agencies to get through some tough times this year. I want to advocate to others that there is no shame in getting help when you need it and its okay to rely on those services.”
In order to preserve people’s reporting options, mandatory reporters are not permitted to be Team Phoenix members. However, anyone else interested in making a confidential report or becoming a member of Team Phoenix.