SAFB Helps PTSD - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX



It's been two days since a shooting at Fort Hood just five hours south of Wichita Falls left 16 injured and four dead; three victims and gunman Ivan Lopez. Prior to Wednesdays shooting Lopez was being evaluated for post traumatic stress disorder. So how does Sheppard deal with military members who might have mental health issues.

Sheppard Air Force Base might be smaller and serve a different purpose than Fort Hood, but military members at both places experience a lot of the same things according to 1st Sergeant John Van Pelt. Sergeant Van  Pelt is in charge of health, welfare and morale of military members on base.

"There are about nine 1st Sergeants here on base and our goal here is to help not only the permanent party, but the airmen in training on base accomplish the mission by getting the residence and training they need and getting the tools they need to be successful," said Sergeant Van Pelt.

Van Pelt said he feels lucky to teach resilience at SAFB and help military members deal with the stresses of life. According to the Sergeant many of those stresses come from outside the base when military members are off duty.

"It's what happens in their home life that is really the basis for how well they perform at work which is one of the big motivations for the air force to really attack resilience at home," said Sergeant Van Pelt. The base does have other more qualified resources that it can use should a shooting surface. As a 1st Sergeant, Sergeant Van Pelts role is to recognize when somebody comes to a point where they need extra help.

“We have all the support systems there in place to support PTSD we have support groups things like that the mental health clinics,Chaplin'ss all the other agencies airmen family readiness center all prepared, equipped and do provide PTSD support for our airmen here on Sheppard," said Van Pelt.

SAFB Public Information Officer Dan Hawkins said that the base is prepared should a shooting ever occur. Hawkins said his jobs is to make sure people are safe and aware of any extreme danger on the base. All forms of social media, including facebook, twitter, email, giant voice system and base phone to make sure everyone knows what's going on.

"First thing base personnel are going do like any other base, take shelter because we want to make sure people are out of harms way and don't put themselves in a dangerous situation because obviously the safety and security of all our personnel is our number one priority in any incident," said Hawkins.

Hawkins said the base is required to go through emergency training which includes practicing for how to react control and contain a shooter. According to Hawkins there has never been a shooting at the base.

Jack Carney, Newschannel 6

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