Health & Safety

September 7, 2012

SFS turns to traumatic stress expert for help

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Airman 1st Class GRACE LEE
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Susan Simons, Under the Shield president, speaks to personnel from the 56th Security Forces Squadron along with members of local law enforcement agencies Aug. 29 at the military working dog kennels on Luke Air Force Base. Simons works with the 56th SFS and local police Wednesdays teaching them how to be mentally prepared for stressful situations.

Military personnel are often called out to serve their country in places where traumatic experiences occur. To help with the stresses, the Luke Air Force Base 56th Security Forces Squadron turns to a woman named Susan for help.
The relationship between Susan Simons, Under the Shield president, and the 56th SFS began in April at the Desert Dog Trials in Scottsdale.

“I was asked to come in and do training on stress and critical instant response and that’s where I met the Airmen from the 56th Security Forces Squadron,” she said.
Although Simons is a civilian she has years of experience in stress coaching and training civilian law enforcement as well as military personnel from several branches.

“I’ve trained Marine Corps infantry units, Air Force chaplain assistants and Army Guard units,” she said.

Prior to meeting the Airmen from Luke, Simons had planned to move her business in Alabama out to Arizona. Since that time she’s educated the 56th SFS and other law enforcement agencies on stress and ways to handle it.

“I work with the 56th SFS from 2 p.m. until 2 a.m. Wednesdays,” she said. “To get the Airmen ready to handle the stresses of deployment we train physically, emotionally and psychologically. We talk about what can happen, what does happen and what they need to do in preparation for those events.”

While it may seem that deployments are mostly physical, Simons said they are also mental.

“The brain controls the body, and if the brain isn’t prepared and doesn’t understand that it controls the body, then thought processes can go in the wrong direction,” she said. “The body can also impact how the brain thinks. It’s a matter of educating people about it; if they’re going into it with a healthier attitude, they’re going to be healthier coming out.”

For Staff Sgt. Jessica Keller, 56th SFS military working dog handler, the training provided by Simons is essential for Airmen to be able to deal with traumatic situations before and after a deployment.

“This training allows us to know how to handle stressful situations and help others in the process,” she said. “After attending Simons’ class in April, I thought this would be really good for Airmen who are about to deploy and for those returning from deployment.”

Though Keller hopes to have Simons train and educate Airmen from all types of career fields, for now Simons said she will continue to volunteer her time and work with SFS.

“It’s an honor to be able to work with the Airmen from the SFS, since I also have a son serving in the Marine Corps, and it allows me to relate.”
For more information about Simons and her work, go to undertheshield.org.




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