VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE -- During uncertain times many people may need someone to talk to, to help them through difficult decision-making processes or various life challenges. Here at Vandenberg the Employee Assistance Program exists for this purpose, and is a free benefit to support Department of Defense civilians and their families.
The program provides confidential counseling services on a wide range of wellness and work-life concerns. Although currently only an Air Force Space Command program, the EAP will be rolling out Air Force wide, Oct. 1.
“The EAP is going to help anyone who needs assistance with the stressors of everyday life, big or small,” said Pauline Chui, 30th Space Wing community support coordinator. “If you have life stressors they can really weigh you down and affect your performance at work. On the military side there are resources to deal with this, but they aren’t available to civilians. Before EAP, employees could be referred to a counselor in town, but some people don’t have health coverage or can’t afford it. With the EAP individuals are offered six free sessions with a licensed counselor over the phone. It covers anything that effects their mental health, social health, financial counseling, and it’s also available to their family members.”
EAP provides financial, legal and counseling services, health and wellness orientations, supervisor and risk management consultations and crisis responses. All is done in confidentiality, except in life-threatening situations.
“Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week a counselor is available,” said Jolene Cantrell, 30th SW chief of manpower and personnel. “If they need to talk to someone immediately they have access to a counselor on the phone or they can get a referral for in-person counseling once the program goes Air Force wide in the beginning of October.”
A phone call may seem impersonal, but Chui reassures other civilian employees that the program is professional and supportive.
“I called the 1-800 number and I was a little discouraged at first because I got a call center and they took my information and said that someone would get back to me,” said Chui. “To my surprise, a licensed therapist called me back right away, and she was very attentive. I was impressed. I was assured that she understood the reason why I called, she addressed it, and I just felt taken care of. I think, just by this encounter, that it’s a good service and that they will really take care of our civilians.”
Ultimately, EAP is about empowering employees to do their best on the job.
“At the end of the day we want what is best for our Air Force, and our civilians are a huge part of that,” said Chui. “If someone is struggling personally, I can see how that can affect their work, their coworkers, and what they’re supposed to do for the Air Force mission. That’s ultimately why they have the EAP; there’s a need and I’m glad that they are filling it with this program.”
For more information, call 1-800-222-0364 or visit www.FOH4You.com.