Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

Clinical Social Worker Provides Mental-Health Support on Remote Base

Image of Military personnel posing for a picture. Licensed clinical social worker, Navy Lt. Carlos Lopez, in the Branch Health Clinic aboard Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in Ridgrecrest, California. Lopez is on three-month temporary duty, providing mental health support for Weapons Station personnel and their families (Photo by: Dave Marks, Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms, MCAGCC Twentynine Palms, California).

Need someone to confide in? Join the crowd.

Mental health resources are in short supply in the midst of a pandemic that has isolated families, increased unemployment and significantly reduced social and outside activities that usually alleviate stress.

When the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in Ridgecrest, California, announced the arrival of a clinical social worker for a three-month working visit, the news rippled through the community like a harbinger of hope.

Navy Lt. Carlos Lopez arrived at the Branch Health Clinic, located aboard the Weapons Station, on June 1 for a three-month assignment. Lopez, assigned to Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms (the Branch Health Clinic's parent command), is on loan due to the heightened need.

"We've had a significant amount of trauma here," said Navy Capt. Jeremy Vaughan, commanding officer, NAWS China Lake. We've had the two earthquakes in 2019, and since July of 2020, we've had approximately 2,500 aftershocks of magnitude 2.5 or larger," he said. "Additionally, we test weapons here, with frequent explosions over the weekend. All of those things shake the population. Add that to the isolation of COVID-19 throughout the last 18 months and you've got a recipe for a large amount of counseling need here."

Lopez arrived at Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms in mid-March, 2021 from a three-year stint in Japan, and has experience serving isolated populations. "A lot of what I saw over there were things like anxiety, insomnia, sleep-related issues, depression and isolation from being so far from loved ones," Lopez stated.

Lopez has served in the Navy for eight years, and earned his Master's degree in social work from California State University, Stanislaus.

"I wanted to serve my country in some way, shape or form," he said. "I'm from a family that is all Army and all enlisted, so becoming a naval officer was a change of course."

Lopez wants the community to understand the basic skills for resilience.

Adults should be getting six to nine hours of quality sleep per night, he explained. "If you're having trouble with that, I can provide tips that will help," he said. "Community" is the operative word, he noted. "It's all about having people you can talk to or go to when you're having a hard time, whether it's squadron, a faith-based group, neighbors or family."

Lopez also noted that people with severe and significant stressors that are unmanageable should make an appointment either with himself, or their chaplain to find strategies for moving forward.

Lopez wants prospective patients to know he relies on an evidence-based eight-twelve appointment regimen. "That number of appointments can be very helpful and provides traction," he said. "I'm going to have to find and identify goals for some quick progression as my time here is temporary. Part of the reason for my being here is to determine if there's an on-going need to establish a permanent position, he said"

"We're finding that families are craving and needing that one-on-one connection that you get with an in-person counseling session," said Hannah Moore, NAWS China Lake, public affairs officer. We have Lt. Lopez here for three months and we can say, listen, if you need help, there's somebody here for you now, she explained.

"It's total health well-being," added Moore. "We've got the pool open again, so families can swim. Now we have a mental-health professional here. We're really trying to take care of the whole person here at China Lake."

You also may be interested in...

Video
Aug 23, 2023

3 Tips for Coming Home from Deployment

Image states three tips for coming home from deployment.

Coming home from deployment can be challenging. We might feel a sense of loss of meaning or that other people don't understand the experiences we had. Dr. Morganstein gives 3 easy tips for adjusting to life back at home. 1. Give yourself time and space. 2. Talk to your loved ones about what's going on. 3. Give your loved ones time and space ...

Video
Aug 22, 2023

3 Easy Tips for Hard Conversations - Part 2

3 Easy Tips for Hard Conversations - Part 2

Part 2 - Find the Words Is a friend having a tough time? Do you want to talk to them and don't know how? Dr. Joshua Morganstein gives 3 tips on how to talk to a friend or colleague who you think might be having a hard time. 1. Set the stage for a conversation 2. Find the words 3. Follow-up This is the second video in a series that gives ...

Video
Aug 22, 2023

3 Easy Tips for Hard Conversations - Part 1

3 Easy Tips for Hard Conversations  - Part 1

Is a friend having a tough time? Do you want to talk to them and don't know how? Dr. Joshua Morganstein gives 3 tips on how to talk to a friend or colleague who you think might be having a hard time. 1. Set the stage for a conversation - find a time when you both have the time and aren't rushed 2. Find the words 3. Follow-up This is the first ...

Video
Aug 22, 2023

3 Easy Tips for Hard Conversations - Part 3

3 Easy Tips for Hard Conversations - Part 3

Part 3 - Follow Up Is a friend having a tough time? Do you want to talk to them and don't know how? Dr. Joshua Morganstein gives 3 tips on how to talk to a friend or colleague who you think might be having a hard time. 1. Set the stage for a conversation 2. Find the words 3. Follow-up This is the third video in a series that gives advice on ...

Article Around MHS
Jul 25, 2023

Defense Public Health Experts Investigate If Minority Group Service Members are More Likely to Experience Behavioral Health Problems

A recent Department of Defense study found American Indian and Alaska Native U.S. Army Soldiers had higher rates of suicidal ideation than white soldiers. The DOD is investigating behavioral health disparities among minority groups in the military to see how they might mirror similar disparities in the civilian population. (Graphic illustration: Steven Basso, Defense Centers for Public Health-Aberdeen)

U.S. public health agencies such as the National Institute of Mental Health have recognized that certain minority groups appear to experience greater risk for certain behavioral health disorders. The higher rates of adverse health problems in minority groups are often referred to as “disparities.”

Article Around MHS
Jul 18, 2023

Tips for Managing Post-PCS Stress

PCS Stress inforgraphic

Moving season is in full swing for many military families. The process of a Permanent Change of Station, or PCS, can be both exciting and stressful. We've got some tips to help ease the rigors of relocation.

Last Updated: September 28, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery