By Rebecca Sparacio

At the Fort Carson Army Base, Soldiers are unable to schedule health care appointments, including mental healthcare appointments, before 9 am. Primary care behavioral health is important to individuals in the military who can suffer from PTSD or have other mental health issues. In recent years, the importance of mental health has been widely popularized, though mental health in the military (and more generally) used to be stigmatized.

The availability of military mental health resources are extremely important to the well being of Soldiers who serve our country. Additionally, it can prevent them from seeing care at certain times can cause further suffering. With days stacked with training, it is already difficult for individuals at the Fort Carson Military base to fit mental health care into their schedules if it is needed.

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Mental Healthcare Restrictions Exacerbate Challenges

When mental health care is restricted to those in dire need, it exacerbates the challenges individuals face in coping with psychological distress. Limiting access to mental health services not only impedes timely intervention for those grappling with mental health issues, but also perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental health concerns.

Without readily available and affordable mental health care, individuals may hesitate to seek help, leading to a deterioration of their mental well-being and potentially escalating to more severe conditions.

A lack of preventive and ongoing mental health support can also contribute to increased societal costs, as untreated mental health issues may result in decreased productivity, strained interpersonal relationships, and heightened demands on emergency services. Ultimately, restricting mental health care access undermines the overall well-being of communities. It also perpetuates a systemic failure to address the complex and interconnected nature of mental health.

Soldiers' Mental Health Needs To Be Addressed

Col. Andrew Boyd’s memo says that units may approve earlier appointments, but that Soldiers must consult with their commander before making that appointment. This can be complicated in situations where health care providers may have to schedule follow-ups without delay.

While physical training is among the most important elements in a Soldier's day, it is not considered sacrosanct within the Army's own fitness doctrine, which outlines exercising as one part of a service member's well-being. Other elements include: nutrition, spiritual health, mental health, and proper sleep.

In response to the concerns raised, Lt. Col. Joseph Payton, a spokesperson for the 4th Infantry Division, reiterated the division's commitment to the holistic health and fitness of Soldiers. Any disruption to this objective, according to Payton, contradicts the division's responsibility to ensure Soldiers are prepared for any mission they may be called upon to support.

Related read: Here’s How the Pentagon Is Eliminating Military Mental Health Stigma

The Struggle For Healthcare Continues

At Fort Carson Army Base in Fort Carson Colorado, Soldiers face a limitation in scheduling healthcare appointments, including crucial mental health services, before 9 am.

This restriction is particularly significant for military personnel dealing with mental health challenges. In recent times, there has been a widespread acknowledgment of the importance of mental health, even in the military, where such concerns were once stigmatized.

Access to mental health resources within the military is paramount for the well-being of service members, and hindering appointments during certain hours can intensify their suffering. Given the demanding nature of training schedules at Fort Carson military base, finding time for mental health care is already challenging for those who may urgently need these services.

Read next: Getting a Mental Health Evaluation Is Easier Than Ever for Soldiers




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