Airmen bring PTSD support groups to Keesler

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Holly Mansfield
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Keesler recently started its Operation Combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Campaign, which focuses on helping Keesler personnel and their spouses who may suffer from PTSD caused by combat-related instances or stressful situations.

“I started the campaign when I was stationed at Travis Air Force Base and now we have it here at Keesler,” said Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Carentz, 81st Medical Operations Squadron superintendent. “Basically we try to raise awareness about PTSD, what it is, how to discover signs of it and educate people about all the different agencies they can go to for help.”

The campaign is comprised of three different weekly meetings; The Spouse’s Combat Stress Support Group, Combat Stress Peer Support Group and the Consuming Fire Support Group. These are available to any service member and their dependents.

“Along with the peer and spouse groups we also have the Consuming Fire Religious Support Group,” said Carentz. “I provide dinner at my house for the group and we use that time to discuss PTSD, stress, anxiety and a number of other issues someone might have and how to use religion to cope.”

Any military member stationed at Keesler can also call to schedule a group sit-down session to discuss PTSD, its effects on military members and how to notice signs of it.

“In addition to visiting different units on base, we also conduct pre-and post-deployment briefings, integrate PTSD into self-aid and buddy care training, have mental health-led support groups, peer-led support groups and attend private organizations’ meetings,” said Carentz. “We also train the key spouses so they can help any spouse in need.”

Meetings are also a way to network and gain new perspectives for coping from various support groups from around base like the military family life consultants or mental health.

“We have key spouses, the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program and also a sleep specialist that come to the Combat Stress Peer Support Group to help each person there get the right information they need,” said Carentz.

Group sessions encourage peer support and leadership to empower Airmen and spouses to relieve stress, anxiety or physical limitations caused by PTSD.

“Each member brings something new to the table at each group,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Conley, 81st Diagnostic and Therapeutics Squadron radiology superintendent. “It’s nice because there are some aspects of PTSD which aren’t covered by mental health or some of the other helping agencies we learn just from each other in the groups.”

At each weekly meeting attendees and facilitators motivate and educate each other to be resilient  and encourages 24/7 support to help those in need when they are in need of help or are triggered by something around them.

“In our support group, not only do we share our information and connect, we also let everyone know if they get in a place where they need help right at that moment, they can call or text any of us and we’ll stop what we’re doing and help them through the situation,” said Carentz. “We also schedule on-and off-base outings in groups and call and text each other throughout the week. It’s a huge networking experience for those involved.”

For those wanting to participate in any of the three groups or want to become a facilitator, call 513-504-4188 or email