Keeping his feet on the ground to put planes in the sky
By Senior Airman Lillian Miller, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 29, 2020
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
The feeling of the rumble of the B-52H Stratofortress is a highlight for some maintainers who work tirelessly to keep them flying, but for one Airman, the excitement in the pit of his stomach was replaced by an inexplicable pain.
Confused with what was causing this pain, Senior Airman Kaid Hackler, 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aerospace propulsion journeyman, made an appointment with his primary care manager (PCM). They began treating his symptoms but the pain persisted.
“At first, I was having difficulty eating, but over time it started progressing into disassociation flashes and depression,” Hackler said. “I had a long talk with my PCM and they diagnosed it as an anxiety issue. I was at a really low point because it had gone on for so long, so we agreed I would go to primary care behavioral health and supplement it with medication.”
The 2nd Medical Group behavioral health consultant (BHC) worked with Hackler to identify goals and a plan of action. The plan included providing information, teaching him skills and developing a behavior change plan he implemented on his own after the visit.
“I started doing more behavioral practices like deep breathing and meditation, but it was supplemented by medication as well,” Hackler said. “The medicine allowed me to get to a place where I could get used to using the practices by myself. Then I got off the medicine, continued to do those practices and now I don't have any problems with it.”
The BHC doesn’t prescribe medications or provide long-term psychotherapy, but can help the members get access to those services when necessary. The BHC works alongside the PCM to make quick effective changes to treatment.
Hackler said he can still be a nervous person but it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be. He attributes his success to his family who he draws inspiration from, as well as his fellow Airmen.
“Right now, I'm feeling really good,” Hackler said. “I've been off medication for about a year now. I've learned more about my job and how everything works. I have found my place and for me, that's a big part about feeling comfortable and happy in the workplace.”
Hackler recently received his engine run certification, which he said was a big personal achievement. Getting the certification also allows him to help other Airmen train for their certification.
“I told myself I wanted to be the guy that people come to for help, and now I'm in that position,” Hackler said. “It feels good to be able to help others and to know that I can do my job well.”
“When I first arrived over a year ago, Hackler stood out to me,” said Staff Sgt. Cody Thompson, 96th AMU aerospace propulsion craftsman. “Ever since going to behavioral health, Hackler has been a breath of fresh air. He really sets the example for his other Airmen. He is a lot more outgoing and willing to help. I've been lucky to watch him come out of his shell.”
According to behavioral health specialists, it’s important to build a good support system with friends and family.
“Supervisors and the command team encourage their members to get help because early attention to a problem can prevent serious ramifications from happening,” said Dr. Airmee Blackham, 2nd Medical Group behavioral health consultant. “The entire process is designed to be supportive of the patient’s well being. We’re always here so even if you’re just going through a rough patch, anyone can come for a few sessions to get back on track.”
As one of the many Airmen in the 2nd Maintenance Group, Hackler continues doing his best to keep the planes in the sky and his feet on the ground.
“I would ask anyone who is feeling anxious to confide in a few people that you can really trust and depend on,” Hackler said. “Behavioral health is an excellent resource to start off with to try and get some help for what you need.”
For more information, contact the 2nd MDG at 318-456-6555 and ask to schedule directly with primary care behavioral health.