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Expanded mental health resources: Behavioral Health Resources and Virtual Experience

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kaylee Clark
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – The Defense Health Agency has selected Cannon AFB as the first Air Force Medical Treatment Facility to pilot their new Behavioral Health Resources and Virtual Experience (BRAVE) initiative.

The BRAVE initiative offers 24/7 centralized appointments with Tricare-authorized providers that are credentialled and privileged by proxy at Brooks Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Active-duty service members using BRAVE can schedule medical and psychological services through secure audio and video conferencing, usually within one to two weeks.

“BRAVE has been an excellent resource to the Cannon community,” said Maj. Rachel Wiley, 27th Special Operations Medical Readiness Squadron Mental Health Flight Commander. “They are able to conduct evidence-based treatment for anxiety, depression, challenges adjusting to the military, moving, trauma, and support with other significant life challenges such as relationship, legal and financial stressors.”

Virtual telehealth offers patients more flexibility in appointment time and location and provides a solution to supplement providers whose caseloads prevent them from taking on new patients.

“Many Airmen have appreciated the flexibility of being seen in the evenings outside of work hours from the comfort of their home, being seen at lunch from their dorm, car--while not driving of course--or office, and not requiring the time it takes to drive to and from the clinic,” Wiley said. “They may also be able to see the member while they are TDY, which allows for less interruptions in their treatment. We encourage anyone who is hesitant to try virtual telehealth to attend the initial four sessions and determine after that if they would prefer to transfer to a face-to-face provider in the clinic.”

Airmen interested in using BRAVE can inform their primary care provider or call the Cannon AFB mental health clinic at 575-784-1108 for a vector discussion. A behavioral health technician will ask the member several questions about their concerns, symptoms, and desired mental health care to collaboratively determine the best level of treatment for that member. If BRAVE is determined to be the appropriate resource, the member will be asked to complete the BRAVE intake forms before they receive an appointment: a telehealth emergency contact plan, consent form, limits of confidentiality form and privacy act form.

Like face-to-face providers in the mental health clinic, BRAVE’s virtual telehealth providers annotate notes in the member’s electronic medical record, allowing primary care managers to track patients’ mental health treatment.  

“We have a collaborative relationship with the BRAVE administrative team and the providers who are supporting our members at Cannon,” Wiley said. “If any of the providers have concerns that their members need to be seen in person or receive a higher level of care, they will contact the clinic to refer someone for an appointment.”

Multiple avenues exist for Air Commandos and their families to seek mental health care, including the Preservation of the Force and Family Task Force, Military Family and Life Counselor and the Cannon AFB Behavioral Health clinic.

“Here at Cannon more than most bases, we have such a robust IRON team filled with people who want to see our Air Commandos be the most successful humans they can be, from strength and conditioning coaches to MFLCS, financial advisors at the Military and Family Readiness Center and Chaplains with full confidentiality,” Wiley said. “The mental health flight is one of many resources available to our members, and adding BRAVE to our team builds a larger bench for our teammates to access in a flexible and accessible way. It’s truly remarkable to see the Air Force continue to invest in services that can help us become more resilient and ready for the fight.”

Whether they are generating sorties or processing the paperwork that ensures Airmen are prepared to deploy, all Air Commandos are tasked with supporting unconventional airpower any time, any place. The 27th SOW’s sensitive missions and high operations tempo make it vital that Cannon’s Air Commandos know the many options they have to seek help and stay healthy.

“Therapy is truly an amazing experience! How many opportunities do you have to meet with someone who is outside of your social circles and get helpful feedback, guidance, support, tools to build healthy coping, social skills and develop positive habits?” Wiley said. “In just a few 45-minute sessions, most individuals show a significant reduction in distress and improved coping with the challenges they initially presented with. In the military, we are frequently bombarded with different demands, working more with less, and being able to talk it out with someone who genuinely cares for your well-being is pretty great.”

If you are assigned to Cannon AFB and need mental health care, please contact the 27th Special Operations Medical Group mental health clinic at 575-784-1108.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, immediately contact the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.