Voices of the VaANG: Airman 1st Class April Bennett, 192nd Medical Group behavioral health technician

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kellyann Elish
  • 192nd Wing

Airman 1st Class April Bennett, 192nd Medical Group behavioral health technician, is highlighted in this edition of the Voices of the VaANG.

Q: What brought you to the VaANG?
I’m from Prince George, Virginia, and I always wanted to serve. I actually thought I had missed my opportunity to serve because I was getting a little up there in age. But, a window of opportunity revealed itself, so I jumped on the opportunity to contact a recruiter to discover that the age requirement had changed. I hadn’t missed out like I thought I had. I had an interest in expanding my skills and experience in the mental health field from the civilian side to the military side, specifically because I felt that there was an area of need that I may be able to contribute to in the military with my experience.

Q: Do you have any family members that served?
I do! My mom, Avis Bennett, was actually in the Virginia Air National Guard. She was a role model for me, I watched her do the same thing. She joined the VaANG, seasoned, at age 35. I watched my mom do it, so that really gave me the motivation to say this can be done. She was in the civil engineering career field.

Q: What do you do as a behavioral health technician?
There’s an array of things that I do including taking vital signs, assisting with members that are coming in for MHA’s, collaborating with the providers to make sure that the members are satisfying those requirements for the MHA and PHA when they come in.

Q: Do you have experience in the civilian sector with this line of work?
I am a clinical supervisor and outpatient therapist for a local agency where I live. I am working every day in a helping profession in a mental health center. 

Q: Did the certifications you have in the civilian world transfer over into the military career?
Even though some of the certifications I have didn’t transfer over to this particular role, the knowledge and skills that I have has been really helpful along the way.

Q: Would the military training transfer well with helping someone in the civilian career field?
The tech school was a well-rounded experience and could prepare anyone to be a behavioral health technician, with or without experience. Some of the ground rules they lay in tech school were how to build rapport with someone, ways to conduct assessments, reviewing diagnostic information, understanding symptoms and how things may present in different ways to determine diagnosis. 

Q: What’s one of the coolest things you’ve done in the VaANG?
I would say, most recently, attending MFAT (Medical Facility Annual Training). We had the opportunity to travel to San Diego to the Naval Hospital. There, I really got a chance to be immersed in an in-patient setting which was really great. That was different because here what we do is more out-patient. Someone who needs to be seen comes in to satisfy the requirement or get resources in the community and then they go home. The in-patient care consists of military or dependents that have an increased need for support, and they actually reside in that unit for a period of time until they’re stabilized. They receive support, resources, training, and therapeutic interventions, see a provider every day, and more while there to help them get better and mission ready.

Q: What advice can you give someone that may think they’re “too old” to join even if they’re still within the age range?
It’s never too late. You can do it! Call a recruiter and don't think about it too long. The moment you have the thought and the interest, go ahead and take the initiative to follow through with what steps you need to take. You can make an informed decision once you have the information from talking to someone like a recruiter. I did just that. I found out that the age had increased to 40, and I called a recruiter right then and got a call back the next day!