The U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) set up the Air Force’s first operational training program to prepare Air Force mental health care providers, technicians and social workers to join Integrated Operational Support (IOS) teams at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The program opened in May to give mental healthcare providers, technicians and social workers going into IOS positions specialized training to learn the skills they will need to support the squadron and their commander.
The week-long IOS training program was developed in collaboration with psychologists and technicians with embedded support experience to build on providers’ normal clinical skillsets, give an introduction to embedded care and address the role differences and demands for providers on IOS teams. Topics include how to fulfill the consultative role to operators and leadership, measure the impact of mental health IOS services, and understand Total Force warfighting communities and their mental health needs.
IOS teams are placed within squadrons to offer front-line, consultative support for Airmen and leadership and are typically embedded within high-demand and high-risk career fields to address the needs of the entire squadron. The addition of mental health providers will enhance the IOS teams’ ability to improve squadron performance.
“We are there to advise commanders on ways to improve the operational environment so their Airmen can perform well under strenuous, high risk conditions,” says Tech. Sgt. Michael Tryon, non-commissioned officer in charge of the Aeromedical Operational Psychology program at USAFSAM. “Focusing on the entire squadron helps understand the root causes of mental and behavioral health issues.”