LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
Around the world, the month of October is recognized as National Mental Health Month. For the Air Force, it’s a reminder to take a moment and evaluate yourself as well as your fellow wingmen. Is effective resiliency being practiced?
To help Airmen who may be struggling or those who just need to talk, the 944th Fighter Wing’s Director of Psychological Health is at the ready to address mental health concerns faced by Airmen and their families.
As a Doctor of Behavioral Health and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Dr. Julie Reese, has been working with military families for over four years, with three of those years right here with the 944th Airmen and their families. Dr. Reese works as a clinical provider for the 56th Mental Health Clinic on Luke AFB and is also an expert witness for child sexual, physical and mental abuse trauma for the State of Arizona, as well as for the 56th Fighter Wing Judicial System. Serving as the DPH, Dr. Reese not only takes care of home station Airmen here at Luke but also provides services for the 944th’s geographically separated units at Seymour Johnson, Eglin, Davis-Monthan, and Holloman Air Force Bases.
“I function within an integrated behavioral health framework, and utilize solution-focused strategies to ensure crisis stabilization, therapeutic recovery, and mission readiness as well as family health,” said Reese. “Airmen readiness is not just about the member, it is also about their family’s health and stability. It is important that we treat the family as a whole system, ensuring that the member can focus on the mission fully and effectively.”
Dr. Reese, in her role as DPH for the 944th, also supports the command structure by ensuring mission readiness. She provides consultation to commanders on mental health trends, national statistics, and programmatic updates and oversight, along with unit training and education, morale boosters, clinical oversight and acting as a subject matter expert for all issues related to psychological health.
“Dr. Reese’s role to provide consistent pulse checks of our units is invaluable,” said Col. James Greenwald, 944th Fighter Wing commander. “This enables us as leaders to intercept and fully support Airmen who are struggling, whether it be themselves or their family members, keeping me informed continually while maintaining the upmost confidentiality. With these components closely monitored and supported by Dr. Reese, we are able to support our Airmen’s welfare and total force readiness, which is a top priority for this wing.”
In her position, Dr. Reese has access to many community providers in Arizona, as well as some other states, enabling her to provide assistance to any Airmen, no matter where they reside.
Dr. Reese provides clinical services consisting of an initial evaluation and short-term solution-focused counseling. She connects and builds a strong rapport with inpatient and outpatient community providers, ensuring Airmen and their families receive priority placement and appointments which support the efficacy of the mission. In 2018, the 944th FW DPH program conducted over 250 short-term counseling sessions for Airmen and their families, and made contact with over 6,000 Airmen. Wingman awareness and buddy checks revealed over a dozen suicidal ideation incidents over the past year and their investment, along with therapeutic interventions, changed the trajectory of those Airmen’s lives.
“Dr. Reese provides an emotionally safe environment to seek support and guidance on any issues Airmen may have in their lives,” said Greenwald. “She ensures all Airmen and their families have the resources they need for stability and success in the Citizen Airmen Family.”
Dr. Reese credits the amount of Airmen seeking help to their informed and involved leadership.
“This significant impact is due primarily to commanders, first sergeants, chiefs and supervisors supporting the mental health of our Airmen and investing in the DPH program,” said Reese. “Education, coping mechanisms, strong connectedness and support can create resilience and success in our Airmen.”
Dr. Reese encourages anyone who feels like they may have any concerns about themselves, their families, or a fellow wingman to reach out to her any time. She believes that no issue is too big or too small and will make it a priority to help get Airmen the support they deserve.
“Being a civilian doctor for the 944th FW is truly one of the greatest honors in my life,” said Reese. “Supporting this fighter wing is fulfilling, fun, and is incredibly humbling, and I am proud to be part of this amazing military family.”
Airmen and their family members are welcome to walk in any time to the DPH office in building 988 room 102, call 623-856-2289, or email Dr. Reese at firstname.lastname@example.org.