By Francis Wakefield
The Philippine Army (PA) has opened its doors for psychologists who are interested to work and provide troops with psychological support to help address combat stress disorder.
Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva, army spokesman, said this is the guidance underscored by new Army Chief Maj. Gen. Macairog S. Alberto, in a command conference he presided following the Change of Command and Retirement Ceremony held at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on Monday.
Villanueva said among the highlights of his thrusts and guidance are to pursue the Philippine Army Capability Upgrade Program, enhancement of the Forward Health Service Support (FHSS), and the institutionalization of the Combat Stress Management System.
“When you say combat stress ‘yungmatagalna, pagang personnel natin ay matagalnana-deploy in some area in the field. Syemprenagkakaroonngibang development sa psychological aspect, attitude, behavior (When you say combat stress, it is when a personnel has been deployed for so long in some area in the field. There will be some developments particularly in the psychological aspect, attitude, behavior),” Villanueva said.
Villanueva said one way to improve or to better look after the psychological well-being of their troops deployed in conflict areas is hiring additional psychologists.
“Yun ang isa sa nakikita kong approaches diyan, at tsaka when it comes to, well added facilities doon sa existing nating mga medical, yung forward health service facilities natin (That is one of the approaches we are looking at and when it comes to, additional facilities to our existing medical (facilities) like our forward health service),” he said.
Villanueva, however, admitted the difficulty of getting people with this specialization to join the military because the perception is that the Army is all about fighting a war.
“We also have plantilla (positions) for civilian employees. Apparently, that’s what we are lacking and it’s difficult to find and attract people of such specialty to join the military,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva also said that he has still to get the actual figure or number of soldiers previously or getting treated for combat stress management.
The PA, it was recalled, has more than 98,000 members in its fold.