Spotlight on FFSC programs and classes

NAS Patuxent River Fleet and Family Support Center Clinical Counselors, from left, Gabby Bollino, Treeci Bond and Vanessa Aucella can assist Sailors and their families with any problem or crisis they may face in their personal life.

The Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), celebrating its 40th anniversary this month, officially opened its first location July 16, 1979 in Norfolk, Virginia. Today, there are 81 service delivery sites worldwide with 58 sites delivering a full portfolio of programs and services, and the staff has transformed from active-duty and volunteer to a mix of full-time employees that include civilian service (GS), non-appropriated funds (NAF) and contractors.

Over the next few weeks, Tester will be spotlighting the various free programs and courses available through the NAS Patuxent River FFSC, located at 21993 Bundy Road, Building 2090.

Gabrielle “Gabby” Bollino and the other two clinical counselors at the Pax River FFSC stay busy making sure service members and their families get the assistance they need to work through any problem, situation, or crisis that may arise in their personal life.

“The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) is specific to active-duty service members experiencing child abuse, child neglect, or domestic violence or neglect in their families,” Bollino explained. “The entire goal of the program is prevention – to eliminate that completely – which we achieve through education, treatment, and then command and offender accountability, as well as victim safety.”

FAP pursues its goals through prevention programs, identification of domestic violence, investigation of alleged incidents, reports to appropriate military and community response agencies, and treatment of families identified.

“We’ll do a FAP assessment by asking family members questions and getting a history of what’s been going on with the family,” Bollino said. “That helps guide us in our treatment recommendations.”

Clinical Counseling Services help to get to the root of an issue and can come up with a plan to deal with a problem or situation an individual or family is facing. It can also help by providing contact information for other services and resources in the community, if necessary

“Clinical Counseling offers a 12 session short-term solution focus at no cost to a service member or their dependents,” Bollino noted. “A typical counseling case may be someone walking in saying they’re experiencing stress of having marital concerns, or they’re grieving someone they lost. We’re able to offer 12 sessions to help them deal with their situation.”

FFSC’s clinical counselors are highly experienced, fully credentialed mental health professionals at the masters or doctorate level, and counseling provided can cover adjusting to military life, anger management, communication and conflict resolution, deployment reintegration, divorce, grief and loss, parenting skills, relationship changes, or other issues affecting an individual’s life or work performance.

Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life (SAIL) is an approach to intervention that provides rapid assistance, ongoing risk assessment, care coordination and reintegration assistance for service members identified with a suicide-related behavior.

“The SAIL program rolled out in December 2016, and the counselors here will do case management services for only active-duty service members who’ve had a suicide-related behavior, which might include an actual suicide attempt, a gesture, or a verbalization of an ideation,” Bollino said.

She went on to explain that once a command receives notice about a Sailor with a suicide behavior, they will send a referral to the Navy’s Suicide Prevention Office, which then gets filtered down to the counselors at FFSC. SAIL case managers are FFSC counselors who will maintain contact with Sailors, healthcare providers, and command leadership to assist with care coordination and engage additional resources, as needed.

“We offer a 90-day program to the service member to make sure they’re connected to [the appropriate] services to help make sure they don’t continue to have suicidal ideations and to make sure they’re doing what they need to do to stay out of the hospital,” Bollino added.

Bollino, who holds a master’s degree in Clinical Social Work, has experience working with children in foster care, making sure they were receiving the services they need; offering individual and group therapeutic services to boys and girls living in group homes; and working in community behavioral health with major diagnoses from depression to hallucinations. She arrived at Pax River nearly five years ago and seems to have found her home.

“I absolutely love working here,” she said. “There are currently three counselors here and the average caseload for us is about four or five clients a day. We all act in the capacity of FAP case managers, clinical counselors and SAIL case managers. We wear three different hats.”