Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. — Joint Base Lewis-McChord is revolutionizing the Military’s strategy to psychological and bodily well being.
Sgt. Alex Nichalson, an infantryman at JBLM, remodeled his life by the Military’s Holistic Well being and Health program. With a mix of remedy and weightlifting, Nichalson strengthened his bodily and psychological well being when he reached a breaking level in 2019.
“That was a key second for me, of being like I wish to reside for one thing, and that’s why I dove into powerlifting. It consumed me,” Nichalson stated.
In fall 2019, Nichalson knew he wanted assist when he may not masks his anxiousness or despair. He had turned to alcohol and smoking to ease the ache and realized it was solely making all the things appear worse.
“From dropping buddies, suicide, downrange, issues (that) occurred in my childhood, to dropping a baby throughout my first deployment, all the things stored including up and including up,” Nichalson stated.
In 2019, Nichalson met Capt. Amanda Hetzler, an occupational therapist at JBLM. He believes she saved his life.
“She made me really feel like an individual, and he or she continuously at all times reassured me, that all the things was going to be alright, and it was the primary time in my life that I had that,” Nichalson stated.
It was a turning level in Nichalson’s lif. He now had the instruments and assist to concentrate on his psychological well being — one thing he selected to not confront for many of his life.
“Alex talked about placing on that powerful face and simply placing on a present attempting to be sturdy,” Hetzler stated. “Whenever you try this for therefore lengthy, you cease dwelling, you cease rising, you endure in silence.”
The Military launched its Holistic Well being and Health pilot program at 10 areas, together with JBLM, in 2018. This system modified the tradition about how the Military approaches psychological well being points.
“(It’s about) caring for your self spiritually, mentally, socially, emotionally, simply doing these issues tending to all these areas, as an alternative of simply placing on a cheerful face to seem like you’re OK. Addressing what’s occurring from the within out,” Hetzler stated.
The necessity for this strategy was to make sure readiness. Annually, practically 20% depart the navy due to a preventable psychological or bodily damage, which equals a lack of $1 billion yearly. This system is a cultural shift in how they prepare and deal with troopers, and the way troopers view themselves.
“Rising up within the Military, particularly eight years in the past after I got here in, behavioral well being was frowned upon. No person took it actually critically. Like we knew we had this suicide pandemic occurring, however everybody who was in you’ll be seen as weak in the event you went to see assist,” Nichalson stated.
After overcoming his personal hesitancy to hunt assist, Nichalson’s purpose is to normalize psychological well being remedy and assist others perceive it’s equally as necessary as their bodily wellness.
“I like serving to individuals, so simply asking individuals, ‘Hey man, the way you feeling at present? And simply speaking to individuals, using the talents I’ve discovered and instructing them that,” Nichalson stated.
In response to the success of the pilot program, navy installations throughout the nation are actually getting ready so as to add this as effectively.