MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Amy Kemp-Wellmeier, or Ms. Amy as she likes to be called, is the 908th Airlift Wing’s Director of Psychological Health. In her role she advises the wing’s leadership on mental health issues affecting Airmen, schedules annual trainings and acts as what she calls a “life coach” to the 908th’s members.
A Long Island, New York native, Ms. Amy has had a skill for coaching people since she was a child, helping kids on the playground and mediating conflicts at home.
“I was always that kid who helped people out,” she recalled. “I’d play a marriage counselor for my parents when I was nine.”
That skill would only sharpen and develop as she grew, and she eventually found herself at Fort Benning, Georgia, working with U.S. Army Rangers suffering from PTSD. With that expertise under her belt, she later joined the 908th and is now available to talk to service members about whatever issues they are facing, like a life coach would.
“Any problems people need to talk about, they can come in and talk to me about it, whether it's professional, or personal,” she said. “And it is all confidential; I don't keep any notes.”
Ms. Amy is an integral part of the 908th wellness team whose mission is to teach skills that help service members cope with their lives both in and out of uniform.
“If you build a healthy individual inside of the military system, then you have a strong military,” she said. “And then you can be mission ready.”
The number one skill on her list is resiliency. It is the ability to be flexible and a skill that she says will not only make the 908th members better decision makers, but also become better team members of the Total Force.
“Without resiliency, you don't have anything,” she said. “Resiliency isn't just what you do when you're having a crisis, it's how you adjust to everything in your life - the good and the bad.”
The 908th’s “life coach” offers important tools to help Airmen deal with mental health and according to Ms. Amy, no issue is too small to discuss.
“Just to feel out of sorts is enough... if you notice that you're sleeping more or you're sleeping less than normal, eating more, eating less, grumpy, agitated by stuff and you don't know why?” she said, “I would say, if you just don't feel anchored and balanced. That's enough of a reason to go talk to somebody whether it's me or a good friend.”
Ms. Amy can get service members access to more than a dozen resources across the entire wellness team at the 908th and elsewhere. The Yellow Ribbon program, Airman and Family Readiness Center, chaplain, and free Department of Defense phone apps, are just a few of the free resources available to members.
“You know, I consider myself a pretty resilient person based on my military history and civilian law enforcement job,” said Chief Master Sgt. Tracy Cornett, 908th Airlift Wing Command Chief. “I'll be the first to admit, I've talked to Ms. Amy about some stuff before, so if I can do it as the command chief, why can't you? Sometimes you just need little bit of a tune up, like a car. You have to stop, put it in the garage for a little bit, fix it and put it back on the road.”
With her coaching, service members and their families can learn the skills to be what she called, “anchored in groundedness.”
“Pain needs a witness,” Ms. Amy added. “Once pain has a witness, you don't feel like you're struggling alone with it any longer, and now you can find ways to cope with it.”
Ms. Amy is prepared for the skepticism that surrounds counseling to reassure those that may be hesitant to talk about any issues they may be facing.
“It’s really normal to feel that way. Why would you feel comfortable to take what's some of your most sacred, private stuff and lay it out there,” she said. “But if you come in and start testing out the waters, you might find that it actually gives you some of the relief, help and support that you've been looking for.”
908th service members and their families can meet with Amy in person, speak to her on the phone or even schedule a zoom call during the week.
“I’m here,” Ms. Amy said, “I want people to know I’m here for them.”
Her availability gives the 908th’s members a strategic advantage and an opportunity to deal with the mental struggles that may be bothering them.
“Mental health is just like physical health,” She said, “You can’t go to the gym and bulk up and then you don't work out anymore. It’s a consistent working process.”
It is a process that Ms. Amy and the entire wellness team is committed to helping service members and their families through.
Ms. Amy is in her office at building 1056 room 203, Monday through Friday and on UTA weekends and can be reached at: 334-413-4575.