CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Camp Pendleton held the ribbon cutting ceremony for their Community Counseling Center Jan. 24.
The Marine Corps is working to provide an integrated behavioral health system so that service members and their families receive prevention and treatment services for their behavioral health needs on base, free of charge, when they need it most.
“The uniqueness of this counseling center is that it is completely tied in with our other Marine and family programs,” said Brig. Gen. John W. Bullard, the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West - Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. “The center offers individual counseling, family counseling, couples counseling, youth, and teen, as well as overall care management.”
The center, located at the corner of Rattlesnake Canyon and A Street, was opened in October of 2013 to serve as a foundation for the broad-reaching efforts by Marine Corps Community Services and Marine and Family Programs to support Marines, Sailors and their families.
“In fiscal year 2013, over 600 individuals were referred to off base counseling services due to limited staffing and capacity,” said Bullard. “In the first two months of the center being open over 200 individuals were served at the CCC with no one turned away.”
Although the war is coming to an end, the need for a counseling center has not changed, according to Bullard.
“Our service members have been doing back-to-back rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan and now that those rotations are slowing down they have an opportunity to reflect,” said Bullard. “They reflect over the years, the friends that they lost, the things they have seen. Sometimes those stresses of life add up. This center offers a facility in our back yard that can help lift that stress off of the service members and their families.”
According to Bullard, before the war there was a stigma about getting help, but over the last ten years people have realized there is nothing to be ashamed about.
“I pray for the day that there is an annual mental health exam,” said Col. Michael E. Cordero, the commanding officer of Headquarters and Support Battalion. “Operational readiness is ensuring our service members get a physical, a dental exam and an audiogram. It should also include the most important part of the human body; mental and emotional.”
Everyone involved has high hopes for the future of this facility, according to Cordero.
“What I see here at this facility is the ability to make sure everyone is a champion,” said Cordero. “Everyone out there has something they excel at and sometimes all they need is a different point of view or an ear to listen to them.”