FFSC Clinical Counselors to Deploy with Sailors

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Story Number: NNS140207-16Release Date: 2/7/2014 1:34:00 PM

By Tim McGough, Commander, Navy Installations Command N91 Communications Program Analyst

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy will hire a total of 21 DRCs in the near future to deploy aboard ships, providing the same services within the same scope of care that Clinical Counselors provide at the Fleet and Family Support Centers (FFSCs).

Two civilian Deployed Resiliency Counselors (DRCs) have already been selected and assigned to ships in Japan. The Navy will hire a total of 21 DRCs in the near future. And although the placing of the DRCs on board ships is a first, the Navy has had great success with civilian "Fit-Bosses" and "Fun-Bosses" on board aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships. These positions serve as Recreation (FUN) and Fitness (FIT) directors aboard the Navy's largest operational platforms.

"Two Deployed Resiliency Counselors have been selected for assignment to the USS George Washington and USS Bon Homme Richard," said Eileen Pawloski, LCSW, Clinical Counseling Program Analyst at Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC). "These and future DRCs are fully credentialed licensed clinical counselors and will deploy with the ship they are assigned." The DRC positions will be civilian Non-Appropriated Fund (NAF) employees.

The DRCs will provide the same services, within the same scope of care that Clinical Counselors provide at the Fleet and Family Support Centers (FFSCs). DRCs will receive additional training for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program responsibilities.

"The implementation of the DRC program was mandated as part of the new Sexual Assault Response Program initiatives directed in NAVADMIN 181/13," said Pawloski. "The goal of the program is to provide a continuity of professional counseling services and support to Sailors during their deployment and while they're at the homeport."

The counseling and support services provided by the DRC are preventative in nature, aimed at addressing life challenges such as adjustment to deployments, separation from friends and family, relationship and family issues, and other challenges to military life. The DRCs are also fully trained to provide an extra layer of support to any victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, assuring that there are no gaps in support services.

In addition, the DRC will provide psycho-educational training on a variety of topics as suicide prevention, stress reduction and substance abuse prevention.

Pawloski stressed the importance that if the DRC is concerned that the needs of the Sailor fall outside of the scope of practice for a Clinical Counselor, they will provide a warm hand-off to the medical clinic to assure that the Sailor is safe and the appropriate treatment needs are addressed.

"As with the Clinical Counselors located in the FFSC's, the DRC can provide early intervention and counseling which can potentially minimize the need to refer the Sailor for more intensive behavioral health treatment," said Pawloski. "And since the DRC will actually deploy with the ship that they are assigned to, they will be easily accessible to Sailors and in a better position to provide this service."

Some may ask what about when the ship is in homeport? In order to ensure continuity of care for the Sailor, Pawloski says the counselors will be made available to Sailors while they're not deployed.

"The DRC may hold office hours on the ship while at the homeport at the direction of the ship's CO," she said. "Depending on the needs of the ship, the DRC may also provide services at the FFSC during the homeport period."

The DRC will receive shipboard indoctrination training, which includes being assigned a ship sponsor. In addition, the DRC's will be fully trained, with additional training on the roles and responsibilities of the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program prior to deployment.

CNIC has been working with the Fleet and regional FFSC's since July 2013 on the development and promulgation of planning and policy to support the DRC program. Job announcements were posted in December 2013. Based on the number of job applications being received at the various HR offices there is a high interest in these positions.

Pawloski thinks the DRC program is set up to be a success.

"I feel like there is a great potential to provide some valuable services to Sailors especially while they are deployed," Pawloski said. "The DRC's will be an additional source of support for the Sailor along with the services already provided by the medical clinic and ship Chaplains, with whom the DRC will work in close collaboration with."

Pawloski said, her hope is that Sailors will reach out to the DRC before their problem(s) gets worse and more serious treatment is needed.

"This service will hopefully boost the Sailor's overall health and resiliency," she said.

"Right now, the DRC's are being hired throughout CONUS and Japan," said Pawloski. "The DRC's will be permanently assigned to the ship and there will not be any specific length of tour."

The DRC program is another program offering Sailors more options for support while helping them become more successful and resilient.

For more news from Commander, Navy Installations Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cni/.

News Source : FFSC Clinical Counselors to Deploy with Sailors

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