|ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. – With the congressionally mandated sequestration on the horizon and lingering uncertainty about the nation’s economic recovery, it isn’t surprising that families everywhere are experiencing additional stress.
Regarding the sequestration, AEDC Commander Col. Raymond Toth sent a message to the entire workforce, expressing his empathy for what everyone is dealing with daily.
"I realize the turmoil this is creating in both your personal and professional lives and our personnel division and ATA leadership are looking at their respective Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to see what support we may be able to provide,” Toth said.
EAP for Department of Defense employees at AEDC
AEDC’s Department of Defense employees have a program available to resolve personal problems before these issues interfere with their work.
Sherri Lamas, a personnel management specialist for AEDC’s Personnel Division, said the Employee Assistance Program provided by Federal Occupational Health is a comprehensive program that helps AFMC-serviced appropriated, non-appropriated fund civilians, and Navy government employees to resolve personal problems that may adversely impact their work performance, conduct, health and well-being.
“Basic EAP services include free, voluntary, confidential, short-term counseling and referral for up to six free off-duty sessions,” she said. “EAP counselors are trained to assist with an assortment of issues which can affect your work performance and personal health to include: legal or financial problems, family/relationships, workplace, personal/emotional, alcohol/drugs, health/stress, and behavioral such as gambling, smoking, and eating disorders.”
Lamas said the benefit “empowers employees to resolve personal problems that impact or may impact on employee conduct and work performance in the quickest, least restrictive, most convenient and least costly manner possible.”
If counseling treatment is required beyond the session limit, the EAP counselor will refer the client to an appropriate treatment or community resource.
The EAP benefit available to eligible employees includes access to twenty-four/seven crisis management services. Legal consultation with a licensed attorney is offered at no charge. If it is determined that you need additional services from an attorney beyond the initial free consultation, the continued services will be offered at discounted rates.
Another EAP benefit includes financial consultation services. Several avenues are available, including consultation with certified public accountants and certified financial planners who have experience in accounting, banking and insurance issues.
There is also an identification theft program that provides comprehensive legal, financial, and ID theft resolution services. These services can save an employee thousands of dollars in legal expenses and considerable time.
While DOD is bracing for potential impacts of budget uncertainties, Tom Sizemore, AEDC’s Chief of Personnel stated that “having an EAP in place is vital to our civilian workforce. The EAP has assisted many of our civilians in the past and our DOD workforce is encouraged to continue to take advantage of the services offered through the EAP.”
For information on these and other EAP services, resources, and tools, visit the EAP website: www.foh4you.com or call the toll-free number 1-800-222-0364 or 1-888-262-7848 for hearing-impaired employees.
EAP for active duty and retirees
AEDC’s active duty population of approximately 50 individuals has access to similar employee assistant program benefits that are available to their contractor and DOD civilian counterparts.
"This is a tremendous benefit at no cost to active duty and their family members and low cost to retirees and their family members,” said Alan Jones, Chief of Health Services at AEDC’s Medical Aid Station.
TRICARE behavioral health care services are available to active duty military members through a primary care manager referral to Value Options. AEDC employees who are military retirees also have access to these benefits through TRICARE's Value Options. Services include outpatient psychotherapy for adults and children as well as family or group sessions. Substance abuse treatment services include inpatient detoxification, inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient care and family therapy. These services are also available to eligible family members.
Acute inpatient psychiatric care is also available for these individuals. For non-emergency care, eligible members should contact their primary care provider who can provide an initial assessment and possibly treatment or refer them to an appropriate behavioral health care provider.
Members should contact Value Options (Behavioral Health) at 1-800-700-8646 prior to receiving treatment from a mental health provider.
Military One Source is an internet-based family assistance program that offers personalized advice and support on many kinds of issues, including financial issues, relationship problems, spouse employment, and other mental health issues. Military One Source is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for active duty service members and their families at 1-800-342-9647, or visit the website, www.militaryonesource.com.
For more information or to discuss other available civilian programs, contact Tech. Sgt. Danielle Morris at 931-454-3829.
EAP for Aerospace Testing Alliance workforce
ATA Senior Benefits Advisor Carrie Barham emphasized that ATA’s workforce also has access to an EAP to help them deal with economic uncertainties and life’s other stressors most individuals and their families may be facing.
“The EAP is managed by United Behavioral Health, a division of UnitedHealth Group, Inc.,” she said. “What we provide is their pamphlet to the employees – all new hires get one. However, if an employee or a manager requests a pamphlet, we will send them one that contains information on how they can go about calling an 800 number or setting up an appointment to speak to a psychologist, or how to access information directly from their website.
“There are different options. I look at the EAP as a two-pronged approach, one is if you’re having problems at home, anger, substance abuse issues, those types of situations, you may call them to be referred to a psychologist.
“However, if you want general information on other situations, the EAP provides information on everything from legal counseling, childcare, elder care to wills. For example, I helped an employee last month who was considering putting their parent into a nursing home. We went out to the website and there were plenty of articles on how to assist that individual in the decision-making process, from picking the right facility to how to transition that person’s parent into the nursing home and more. So, EAP is a program that has many components to it.”
Mike Cunningham, ATA’s human resources manager, added, “Any ATA employee or family member may receive up to five free sessions with a qualified service provider approved by United Behavioral Health. You often are given a choice among several approved providers. Assistance is available for substance abuse, financial and legal matters, depression and anxiety, and parenting, family and relationship issues."
Barham said she has learned employees may not be aware of the range of benefits provided through United Behavioral Health.
“There [are] also a lot of components that a lot of people aren’t aware of [like] articles on how to deal with adult daycare – when you’re having to take care of a parent, how to find the appropriate care for them, adoptions, real estate, some basic legal questions. There’s just a hodgepodge of things that people can go out there and look on the website for.”
She said early intervention for people under stress is ATA’s goal with EAP.
“The program is important because it is a benefit that can help the employee,” she said. “If you think about it, if an employee is stressed at home, they’re probably going to bring their stress to work. So, it can affect their job and their relationships with their co-workers. It’s a benefit to help them deal with those stressors which are not [necessarily] work related, [and] it helps them deal with that in a confidential manner.”
Cunningham pointed out that the privacy of those seeking help is paramount.
“The EAP is a very important benefit because it provides a prompt, confidential and professional intervention for an employee or household family member in need,” he said. “This quick and qualified intervention could easily make a big difference in the safety and health of the user and family members, co-workers, etc. Our group insurance plans provide some assistance if the provider is covered within the insurance carrier's network.”
Barham and Cunningham acknowledge that employees have expressed concerns about their privacy being protected.
“Confidentiality is very important to users and this is understandable,” Cunningham said. “I can assure you nobody in this company ever knows who is using any of the services. The costs are pre-paid by the company and therefore billings are simply a flat fee per month for every employee on ATA's rolls.”
ATA employees may access the EAP benefit by calling United Behavioral Health at 866-828-6049 or logging onto the company’s website at www.liveandworkwell.com, and entering access code 12610. For additional information, contact Carrie Barham at 454-7485.