NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Life isn’t always easy, and sometimes you need someone to lean on to get through those hard times. Singer-songwriter Bill Withers’1972 hit song “Lean on Me” said it best that in our most trying times, all it takes is one person to help us carry on.
Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) have several resources available to them for assistance. Whether the Sailor needs a listening ear, or someone to help them out with unresolved issues, the Deployed Resiliency Counselors (DRC), the command psychiatrist (psych boss) and chaplains, are all qualified people to lean on in those challenging times.
“I provide non-medical counseling services, to include occupational stress, family-related problems and communication, marriage problems, deployment issues, reuniting from deployment; anything that affects the Sailor’s daily functions,” said Felita Davis, a DRC for George Washington.
Anyone who asks a DRC, psych boss or chaplain for help, is already helping themselves.
“They automatically have my greatest respect,” said Cmdr. Philip Bagrow, a chaplain aboard George Washington. “It takes a really strong person to say they need help. None of us can really do many things on our own. Imagine if there was one airman, and he or she had to run up to the flight deck, and take care of getting the jet off, getting the jet landed and getting the jet fueled up. It just seems ludicrous to think about it.”
While some Sailors have been able to muster the courage to seek help on their own, others may need support from their shipmates to get assistance.
“One of the best things a person can do when they recognize their shipmate needs help, is be supportive,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class John A. Stone, a behavioral health technician aboard George Washington. “It is important to remove the stigma that commonly follows counseling.”
Making an appointment with a counselor allows Sailors to get the help they need without worrying about their business being shared around the ship.
“What we discuss in sessions is confidential unless there is disclosure of harm to self or someone else,” said Davis. “I am a mandated reporter. If anyone discloses they have intentions to harm their self or anyone else, I do have to report that and take the necessary steps to ensure safety.”
While the DRCs are bound by mandatory reporting guidelines, it is slightly different for a chaplain.
“Chaplains hear everything,” said Bagrow. “Chaplains have a confidentiality that no one else on the ship has. Doctors, lawyers, DRC and psych boss all have ceilings to their confidentiality. They are required to report things such as drug abuse, abuse of a child, suicidal and homicidal behavior. A Sailor can tell a chaplain anything, and unless they give us permission to disclose that information, we are required to keep it confidential.”
In addition to Sailors knowing their business will be kept confidential, it is also important to have their voice heard. When a Sailor comes to Bagrow’s office, he makes sure each Sailor has his undivided attention.
“One of the first things I do is remove my ID card from my computer,” said Bagrow. “I don’t do anything besides listen to that Sailor. If I don’t do that first, I haven’t started our session correctly.”
No matter who a Sailor chooses to confide in, the only thing that matters is that they get the help that best fits their needs.
“I am here for those Sailors who don’t necessarily want to go see a chaplain or psych boss,” said Beth Williams, a DRC for George Washington. “We are civilians who provide another avenue for counseling.”
If a Sailor wants to seek help, or if anyone knows a shipmate who may need a little encouragement along the way, it is easy to schedule an appointment with any of the command’s counselors.
To schedule an appointment with a chaplain, Sailors can contact the Command Religious Ministries Department onboard the Floating Accommodation Facility (FAF). Williams and Davis are located in the Bank Building at 2600 Washington Ave. Their hours of operation are from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They can be reached via e-mail, phone or stopping by.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.