FORT HOOD — Soldiers of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment now have the opportunity to seek behavioral health care right next door to where they work, sleep and feel most at home.
In conjunction with Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, the Brave Rifles cut the ribbon Thursday morning to a brand new Embedded Behavioral Health Facility — a building dedicated solely to the mental health of all members of the regiment.
“Today’s ribbon-cutting is the Army saying behavioral health is important, but showing it as well,” said Col. John B. Richardson IV, regimental commander.
The facility has 13 Darnall providers on staff offering full-spectrum care, including medication management, group therapy, individual therapy, crisis intervention and command consultations, said Maj. Daniel Steigerwalt, chief of outpatient behavioral health services.
The command consultations, he said, are unique to embedded facilities.
“It’s active outreach, where clinicians and staff go to the unit area and have early intervention at the unit level, rather than waiting for the soldier to come to the clinic,” Steigerwalt said.
This is the third embedded facility — a brigade-level asset — to open at Fort Hood, since 2010. There are currently two within the 1st Cavalry Division supporting 1st and 2nd Brigades, said Lt. Col. Sharette Gray, chief of behavioral health at Darnall. Two more facilities are scheduled for Fort Hood — one within 3rd Brigade and another will open either at Hood Army Airfield or West Fort Hood.
“The commanders really like them and the soldiers like them,” Gray said.
Units with these facilities see a decrease in suicide and domestic violence, she said.
“We’re really excited because we know this is a proven concept to decrease issues with soldiers, improve readiness and improve patient satisfaction,” Gray said.
Brave Rifles has had a dedicated team of providers but not located at Darnall. The patient load has already increased since the move, Gray said.
“Because of the accessibility, it does make it easier for soldiers to come and feel more comfortable,” she said.
Richardson agreed that proximity to the unit is the biggest benefit of the facility. Going into a hospital itself can be intimidating, especially when it’s a new place.
“I feel like if it’s in the footprint of the unit area, they are part of our team,” Richardson said. “They’re not going to see a stranger; they are going to see part of the team.
“We are saying we want you to use this, and it helps diminish the stigma,” he said.
Darnall commander Col. Patrick Sargent said stigma has no place in the Army.
“It needs to be eradicated.”