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Breaking the addiction to tobacco one Soldier at a time

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Key leadership stationed at Camp Buehring cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Gaining Resiliency in Theater clinic Jan. 3, 2018. The clinic will provide various behavioral health prevention measures to all Soldiers stationed at Camp Buehring to include a tobacco cessation program overseen by staff assigned to the 449th Combat Aviation Brigade. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Leticia Samuels, 449th Combat Aviation Brigade)

Story by Capt. Briana McFarland

449th Theater Aviation Brigade

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – The Surgeon General reports that smoking is detrimental to a person’s health and hard to quit due to nicotine, but thanks to the January 3 grand opening of the Gaining Resilience in Theater (GRIT) clinic, Soldiers at Camp Buehring, Kuwait will not have to go through the process alone, instead, they will be able to participate in the smoking cessation program managed by Soldiers from the 449th Combat Aviation Brigade.

The Tobacco Cessation Clinic at Camp Buehring was organized by the 449th CAB medic Thomas Fisher, board certified doctor of pharmacy, who utilized the smoking cessation program during his residency at the Phoenix Veteran Affairs Office.

“The model we utilized [at the VA] for smoking cessation was the Shared Medical Appointment strategy, in which multiple patients were in the room at the same time with a multi-disciplinary team to include a pharmacist, psychologist, social worker and nurse,” said Fisher. “The benefits to this model includes the ability for Veteran’s to learn from one another, and not feel as if they are alone, maximizing the team approach to care.”

The program at Camp Buehring can provide an individual appointment based treatment approach where Soldiers can receive one-on-one care and follow up appointments on a weekly to monthly basis by a multi-disciplinary team. The team consists of a Physician’s Assistant, medic and Behavioral Health Officer who is also a licensed Social Worker and Substance Abuse Counselor.

“This program is important to me because it allows me to use my substance abuse background but also I feel very passionate about that work,” said Katie Duffy, 449th CAB behavioral health officer. “Anytime we can help one Soldier to quit a possibly life threatening addiction, I think that is a win for the Soldier, Family and Army.”

The BHO provides motivational enhancement for change and cognitive behavioral techniques to assist Soldiers in making and sustaining the change, the PA provides medication management, and the medic provides educational tools and nicotine replacement therapies such as gums and patches.

“Tobacco cessation is always an opportunity for providers to decrease the negative health consequences of tobacco use, and as such, should always be available for any Soldier wishing to quit,” said Fisher. “Having a dedicated clinic would be ideal care for all Soldiers to come.”

The smoking cessation team wants Soldiers to know that they are not in this process alone, and there is no better time than the present to stop smoking, dipping and chewing tobacco. Many Soldiers use deployments as a time to better themselves, physically, mentally, financially and emotionally.

Fisher has long term goals for the clinic in hopes of transforming as many lives as possible to include having a classroom style or SMA style model in the future, if interest is strong enough. The smoking cessation clinics team’s message is clear, quitting tobacco is possible if you are motivated to change and a team is here to assist.

“If soldiers can go home to their families after serving their country without the vices of tobacco, to include, no longer having the financial burden of purchasing tobacco, and the detrimental damage tobacco causes to their body, would be a win for all,” said Fisher. “Plus, when it gets to be 115 plus degrees outside, who wants to venture outside to smoke?”

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