Supporting mental wellbeing for service personnel
US Navy and Marine reservists face unique challenges post-deployment that can cause increased stress and exacerbate psychological injuries sustained during service.Back to case studies (tbc)
Name: Kaley Rhoden
Title: Clinical Counsellor
Region: Serco Americas
On behalf of the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, we help to deliver the Psychological Health Outreach Program (PHOP), which aims to ensure that reservists have full access to appropriate psychological healthcare services. Our team of counsellors, including clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists and mental health counsellors, provide comprehensive outreach services for reservists and their families, helping to facilitate recovery, reintegration and increased resilience for continued service.
Kaley Rhoden is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with PHOP, based in the Joint Base Lewis–McChord (JBLM) US military installation near Tacoma, Washington. Kaley’s husband is a combat medic at JBLM. Whether she is working in an official capacity, or as a volunteer, Kaley has dedicated herself to caring for the whole military community she supports and is herself a member of.
Here, Kaley shares her insights and experience both professionally and personally:
How do you make a difference?
I believe my co-workers and I have helped to prevent potential tragic and traumatic outcomes in the military community. I have met multiple clients who were at risk and who we supported through that and out the other side by addressing their needs and concerns.
It’s amazing to witness the changes. Even simply making them aware that help is available can make a massive difference in itself. My most eye-opening experience was my first site visit. I met face to face with a Marine who revealed to me in a very honest way that he was finding it difficult to cope. It’s amazing to see his progress now. Another Marine has reported reduced psychological trauma after working with me. It’s the best feeling to contribute to these success stories.
What does it take to do what you do?
I treat others how I want to be treated. I have the utmost respect for our service members and their families, especially given that I myself am a military spouse. The military life can be very tough at times. I keep that in perspective. Some may present a hard exterior, but deep down they appreciate all that we provide.
To work well with military, you need to ‘speak the language’. In other words: respect service members and walk the walk. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it. Specifically with PHOP, there needs to be a compassionate component to our work. It can be difficult – we have to make extremely tough split-second decisions. What other job would have you interviewing people in a closed room with guns strapped to their chests?
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I like to tell people that I’ve helped with everything from homelessness to finding a date for the military ball! There is nothing too big or too small. It’s so rewarding to hear a service member or family member tell you that you made a difference in his or her life.
In what other ways are you contributing to the community you support?
When I’m not working with PHOP, I’m working as a military spouse. I run and maintain several different free groups and resources in a voluntary capacity, many of which I’ve put in place because of my own experiences. For example, I have created or co-created a site induction guide for incoming service members and, for my fellow military spouses, a social support network and monthly mental health support group.
Being a licensed therapist and a military spouse gives me an incredible opportunity to make a difference to the military community. Military life can be emotionally, physically and spiritually draining on service members and their families – I want to help make it easier. I love helping people and that’s the drive behind everything I do, whether it’s ‘on the clock’ or ‘off the clock’.