The following Monday’s training looked much different than the previous day.
All commissioned officers that complete BOLC A would split off and getå trainees in their respective tracks. The vast majority of officers, being the 70B Healthcare officers, would split to their 70b track, the medical doctor series to their medical track, the PA’s to their PA track, etc.
Behavioral Health officers are required to attend a 2 week course that is focused solely on what resources are available as a provider in the Army and integrating the behavioral health mission within the Army.
My Entire BOLC class consisted of roughly 200 Soldiers, but my track phase greatly paled in comparison. We were 4 Social Work Officers strong, ultimately creating a different dynamic for training. The course isn’t limited to just Social Workers, other cohorts could contain both clinical or research psychologists.
Day 1: Class began at 0730. The class was facilitated by a O4 Psychologist, who’s instruction was incredibly helpful. The course was rich with experts in the field ranging from retired Soldiers to renowned trauma workers holding PhD’s in their respective disciplines.
We briefly touched on expectations of class, identified homework assignments, and touched on the overall scope of behavioral health. I learned quickly that my job as a behavioral health officer would greatly exceed my expectations. Going into this career, I prepared to be doing clinical work for the majority of my job. This would be half true.
Roughly half of your work week is considered clinical, and the other half of our jobs would be educating command, attending meetings, running the behavioral health mission, performing needs assessments on various units, etc. The role of a behavioral health officer would be cumbersome, which I would learn when I transitioned to SWIP.
We broke for lunch around 1100 for 90 minutes, then returned for more lecture. The day ended around 1600.
Day 2: began at 0730. We began the class with an overview of COSC (Combat Operation Stress Control). The COSC mission is ran by behavioral health officers. It’s a company of Soldiers that is designed to be modular as it attaches to the overall combat mission. The COSC team adapts to the needs of the Army. In a deployed setting, this means COSC Soldiers will travel out to different posts to treat Soldiers. In a crises, the COSC team will respond.
During SWIP, all Behavior Health Officers will attend a COSC training for more in depth instruction.
After lunch we received lecture from a retired 68x (Behavioral Health Technician), who spoke on their capabilities. the 68x, essentially, is an extension of the providers license. Under the approval of the provider, they can assess, intervene, and document various psychological encounters.
Day 3: we were in a different room to practice our “elevator speech” to command.
It’s no secret that behavioral health stigma is alive and well. Being aware of this stigma and being creative in continuing to support the behavioral health mission is a tricky barrier. The powerful stigma is why the track phase made it a requirement to learn how to speak to command about the importance of behavioral health, but in a manner that is Army language consistent.
We did mock speeches with command, which were criticized as we attempted to fine turn our speech.
- It’s important to rehearse your speech as command my have 2-3 minutes max to listen to you.
- Carry professional cards to hand to command
- Don’t make promises you cant keep
- Show face and attend all meetings. YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO THE MISSION
We broke for lunch then had further lecture.
Day four we received lecture on chapter process, something that as behavioral health officers, you will be heavily involved in as all Soldier’s that exit the military via chapter need a screening from behavioral health.
We also talked about what behavioral health conditions render a discharge, such as psychosis, personality disorder, etc. This is one of the trickier aspects of our jobs, as we balance the ethics we are bound to, but have to meet the Army’s mission.
Ethics such as confidentiality, doing no harm to the client, etc. often conflict with the Army’s mission, as their priority is mission readiness. Sometimes as behavioral health officers, you need to make difficult calls when Soldier’s are not fit for duty.
We began the day with utilizing behavioral health services within the Army’s combat mission. We then touched on the project we would need to complete on history of behavioral health in the Military. My group elected to brief on World War 2. This was an opportunity to hone in briefing skills and receive constructive criticism.
We then broke for the weekend