CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Mental and physical. Mind and muscle. Airmen need to be fit, throughout their will and body. The success of the 27th Special Operations Wing’s mission depends on our Special Operations Forces Airmen solidifying their unwavering 24/7 commitment to the Air Force.
The Preservation of the Force and Family program is intended to ensure these Airmen have access to the tools needed to remain resilient with peak performance in all four pillars: human (physical), psychological, spiritual, and social.
The POTFF program is a Special Operations Command initiative, executed throughout Air Force Special Operations Command, focusing on enhancing resiliency skills of Air Commandos and their families. It’s charged with building and implementing a holistic approach to wellness while addressing the impact of the force on families. This helps to maintain and improve readiness, operational efficiency, and the immediate and long-term well-being of this AFSOC institution.
Currently, there are 13 members of the 27th SOW POTFF team embedded at Cannon. This includes five clinical assets: one clinical psychologist, one nurse case manager, three licensed clinical social workers, and eight non-clinical assets. These other assets consist of four community program peer network coordinators, three psych techs, and one data analyst.
The AFSOC mission is demanding. By enabling Airmen to learn how to bounce back from adversity, they will make the most of their years in the Air Force and better themselves as individuals.
“We don’t ask for help, and that can be particularly challenging for us,” said Jennifer Hurtig, 27th SOW CPPNC asset. “So many of our Airmen are defined by what they do and are proud of that. It can be hard for them to put that mantle down for a moment to tend to their needs in all four pillars and take care of themselves.”
When Airmen don’t know where to go or who to turn to for help, reaching out to their unit’s CPPNC should be a top priority on their list. A POTFF CPPNC is available in squadrons across base and will be able to direct them where they need to go. It’s about making those connections, support, encouragement and developing a path to a better version of themselves.
When someone visits their unit POTFF representative and needs assistance with any combination of the four concepts, the POTFF member gets started on making sure they connect them to the correct resource.
Hurtig is the CPPNC for two groups at Cannon and says she loves helping people that visit her office. She provides assistance and direction to help via the peer mentor program that she and other POTFF members are a part of. It involves both active duty servicemembers and spouses that step up to share their experiences in the military to help others who can gain from that valuable experience. Becoming a trained peer mentor is a great way to help make a difference and for active duty and spouses to become a resource in their squadrons.
“With the POTFF model, we are uniquely situated to help because we are focused on the preventative aspect,” Hurtig said. “We want to stop things from becoming crises.”
She added that being able to be embedded into the squadrons and being present regularly is extremely helpful.
“I really love the referral resource we are,” said Carly Daniel, 27th Special Operations Medical Group CPPNC. “I talked with someone who needed help and was struggling, so I connected them to a military and family life counselor. [Later, I heard] that they’re doing so much better and have enjoyed a few sessions with them. To know I had a positive impact on someone’s life—it’s a good feeling.”
When in-processing, each Cannon Airman will meet one-on-one with a POTFF representative, whether it’s a CPPNC, licensed clinical social worker or clinical psychologist. This allows them to understand the unique assets they have available to them here at Cannon. It allows Airmen to potentially have continuity of care when there is a need to provide more intensive medical treatment at the Mental Health Clinic at Cannon.
“We can provide brief solution focused counseling in our offices in their units or if the issues are serious, the embedded clinical providers can follow members into the mental health clinic,” said Dr. Bobby Holstead, 27th Special Operations Group POTFF clinical psychologist. “Not all issues or problems are serious, however. These embedded providers also offer consultation or brief, non-medical counseling on things like stress, relationships, or work issues. Furthermore, a focus on enhancing performance is an important aspect of what is offered. Performance enhancement can involve both one-on-one meetings and squadron briefings on resiliency topics.”
However Airmen prefer to seek help from POTFF, the most important part is that they reach out, according to Amy Egbert, 27th SOW POTFF community programs specialist.
“We always say, ‘It is okay not to be okay but it is not okay not to ask for help,’” said Egbert. “We have so many wonderful assets here on Cannon who are here to help both active duty and their dependents. If one doesn’t fit, let’s find the one that makes you the most comfortable.”
One other individual who helps with the clinical side of POTFF is their nurse case manager, Jalane McAtee. She is able to assist leadership in helping to arrange complex medical care for their unit members, care that is usually outside of the normal range of services provided at the 27th SOMDG. In addition, there are three psych techs who assist the embedded providers, both clinical and non-clinical, in addressing the resiliency of Cannon’s Airmen.
The proactive nature of this program keeps it productive and rewarding for both sides of the desk, with many Airmen seeking its benefits. The mental assistance they offer heavily contributes to the execution of global special operations.
Embodying the SOCOM mindset of “humans are more important than hardware,” POTFF brings a unique opportunity for members to obtain specialized medical and mental health resources. To find out how to reach your POTFF resources, please call Amy Egbert at (575)-904-6776.