Director of Psychological Health provides mental health support for wing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kristen Pittman
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Life can provide an array of stressors whether in the realm of relationships, finances, employment, or any other factors. Often, Reservists face these types of stressors on top of their military responsibilities.  

To combat the mental strife that comes with everyday life and life in the military, the Air Force Reserve provides unique access to mental health services for Reserve Citizen Airmen and their families through its Psychological Health Program.

“Mental health services are undermanned in 70% of counties across the U.S.,” said Katie Coffman, 403rd Wing director of psychological health. “People are needing services, it’s hard to get them, and they’re either waiting until they’re in a point of crisis or they’re scared to seek them because of stigmas or fear of it affecting their careers. To me, especially right now, that’s the biggest benefit of this program; I can do free, supportive counseling or crisis response that is not documented on any records with the exception of safety concerns.”

The 403rd Wing recently welcomed Coffman as the new DPH December 2022. Coffman is a licensed clinical social worker who took on the role after serving nine-and-a-half years on active duty as a mental health provider. She earned her commission through the Health Professions Scholarship Program and served in a variety of roles including as a mental health officer in charge at Keesler, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager at Aviano Air Base, Italy, and Family Advocacy Program OIC at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

“I love helping people,” said Coffman, on why she chose this profession. “Individuals come to a mental health provider when they’re at some of the worst points in their life, and it’s an honor to help empower them through emotional and psychological challenges, ultimately enhancing quality of life and mission readiness.”

As the wing’s DPH, Coffman provides mental health support for members and their families, whether that’s through counseling, crisis intervention, or connecting members with other helpful resources.

“Anyone in the 403rd Wing, including family members, can come to me regardless of status,” she said. “I’m here full-time throughout the week and during (Unit Training Assembly) weekends, my work cell is always on, and location is flexible.”

Counseling sessions are confidential and do not reflect on members’ medical records, said Coffman, with the exception of instances where the patient is at risk of harming themselves, others, or the mission.

“Having grown up a military brat and then to serve in the Air Force as a mental health provider, I’m well-versed in how military mental health systems work and the resources available,” she said.

In addition to counseling services, Coffman also provides crisis intervention, leadership consultations, and needs assessments as situations arise.

“The Director of Psychological Health is just one position, but the effects of her work will be felt across the entire wing as she serves as a force multiplier,” said Col. Stuart M. Rubio, 403rd Wing commander. “I’m excited to have Katie in the Wing of Choice, not just because of the extensive experience she possesses, but also for the enthusiasm she brings to supporting all of our Airmen.”

Coffman’s office is located in the Roberts Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Facility in room 228 and her typical hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and during duty hours on UTA weekends, though hours can be flexible. The best way to make an appointment is by calling or text messaging 228-806-0913.

“I’m excited to be here and to get to know people and help any way I can,” said Coffman. “I love the atmosphere here at this wing; it’s like a family and you can tell how much people here care about the mission and each other.”