Friday, February 6, 2015

SAF Commandos receive stress debriefing from battle-hardened marines

From the Website of AFP
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CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City— Battle-hardened marines, who had experienced bloody clashes in their previous assignments in Mindanao, conducted stress debriefing to Special Action Force Commandos to help ease their pain after the encounter in Maguindanao.
Aware of the psychological impact of bloody encounters, the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 (MBLT-1) conducted on Tuesday (February 3) a Psychosocial Processing (PSP) to their counterparts in the 55th Special Action Company.

The 42 participants of the stress debriefing are assigned at the Police Regional Office-9 and were comrades of the 55-SAC commandos that were wiped out in the encounter with armed elements in Mamasapano on January 25.
“My unit has experienced bloody encounters in the past and this helped us connect with our comrades from the PNP. They were able to unload most of the pain and this is important for people who are grieving,” said Lt Col Ronald Juan, Commander of the MBLT-1 stationed in Zamboanga City as part of the Joint Task Group-Zamboanga.
Zamboanga City Mayor Bheng Climaco-Salazar, who is also a qualified counselor and Dr Lolina N Bajin RP of Camp Navarro General Hospital in Western Mindanao Command joined the MBLT-1 in the stress debriefing.
Stress debriefing
The PSP or stress debriefing was conducted to help the SAF troopers talk about their experience and reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Based on the feedback of their battalion commander, the SAF troopers felt a sense of relief after the activity. We are very fortunate that our team was prepared and are capable to conduct the stress debriefing,” Juan added.
Being the only qualified, authorized, and capable unit of the Marine Corps in the area, the MBLT-1 facilitated the stress debriefing for the SAF troopers under the 55 Special Action Company.
“We conducted the psycho-social processing to the members of the 55-SAC who are not directly involved but have lost their close friends and buddies in the operation in Mamasapano,” Juan said.
He added that the effect of the encounter was obvious among the SAF personnel.
“The moment they entered the discussion group, we could already feel the sadness,” Juan added.
He described that during the debriefing process, the SAF troopers were at first hesitant, but after a while they were able to let go of their emotions and unload their grief.
“According to their battalion commander, the SAF commandos felt relieved after the debriefing. We were deeply appreciated not only by the participants but also their commander,” Juan said.
The MBLT-1 went through a four-day training and workshop on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Capacities (MHPSC) in Combat Operations under Dr Bajin.
“Our training concluded two weeks ago and we received our qualification. From there we started facilitating psycho-social processing with soldiers who are going through re-enlistment,” Juan said.
The MHPSC is required to be qualified in facilitating stress debriefing activities. With the training, the MBLT-1 was equipped with the skills and capability to facilitate individual and group discussions with affected persons.
The Marines were taught how to handle and talk affected individuals through their trauma, at the same time they were taught how to diffuse the stress that could be passed on to them after the debriefing.
After the successful debriefing of the SAF commandos, the MBLT-1 is looking forward to facilitating another PSP session, this time for the families of the Fallen-44 in Zamboanga City.
“We are just waiting for orders and also for a mutually applicable time to conduct the debriefing,” Juan said.
Juan assumed in January 2014 as the Commander of the MBLT-1, which conducts focused military operations in Basilan and Sulu.
He said that his unit is not new to intense encounters given their area of responsibility.
“We conduct security operations in Sulu and have also taken part as support unit to major operations against high-value targets in Western Mindanao,” Juan said

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