Ace Lends a Paw to Guard Soldiers in Need

Ace, a therapy dog in training, is the newest member of the New Jersey Army National Guard’s Psychological Health Program. (Photo by MSG Matt Hecht).

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – The New Jersey Army National Guard’s Psychological Health Program recently welcomed its fifth team member, although instead of wearing combat boots, he has four paws. Ace is a rescue dog, and at 8 months old, he’s been making waves throughout the State as a therapy animal in training.

Ace can be seen sporting military gear with a large “PET ME” patch emblazoned on the side.

“He’s going to be a tool that we’ll be able to use in order to connect Soldiers and provide emotional and therapeutic support throughout the State,” says Captain (CPT) Melissa Parmenter, a behavioral health officer with the New Jersey Army National Guard.

“Sometimes when we’re struggling with mental illness or just life stressors, it’s hard to get that courage to come forward and ask for some help, so Ace’s role will be to help open that door.”

When CPT Parmenter was pondering what to name the dog, her husband noted that Batman had a dog named Ace. She immediately took to the idea when she realized it fit the Army acronym for Ask, Care, Escort.

CPT Melissa Parmenter and therapy dog, Ace, in front of the New Jersey National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. (Photo by MSG Matt Hecht).

“A.C.E. teaches Soldiers at the lowest level, if you have a battle buddy in need, this is how to get them to the right place, and not to leave them alone until they’re in the right hands,” she says.

Ace has already been helping Soldiers, providing comfort to those in need.

“Everybody’s body posture and everything changes automatically when they see him. He’s licking everybody, and everybody is trying to touch him, hug him, and get kisses from him. The whole demeanor of wherever he walks in changes.”

CPT Parmenter hopes that Ace will break down barriers when it comes to mental health.

“I think Ace will help change the thinking that therapy has to be sitting at a desk and talking to someone,” she says.

“I think it will help us get the message across that there are different modalities available, and there are different ways to receive therapy that can be helpful and really beneficial.”

Making an impact is ingrained in the Army National Guard’s mission. If you’re passionate about helping others and making a difference in someone’s life, consider joining the National Guard. With hundreds of positions available in the medical field, including mental health specialists, you, too, can serve part-time in your home State, and take care of those who may need you the most. To see all current job opportunities, visit the job board or contact a recruiter to learn more today.

From an original article by MSG Matt Hecht, New Jersey National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in October 2019.

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State Spotlight: New York

Deployments Make Army Guard Doctor a Better Hometown Physician

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Ebola and malaria aren’t diseases doctors working in the hometown of the Baseball Hall of Fame normally expect to encounter.

But Dr. William LeCates, a kidney specialist and medical director of Bassett Healthcare Center has experience with both diseases, as well as battlefield medicine, as a result of his “other” career as Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) William LeCates, a New York Army National Guard doctor.

His military career, said LTC LeCates, has only served to make him a better physician overall.

LTC LeCates joined the New York Army Guard in 2009, putting his knowledge and skills to work for American and allied military personnel.

He said he always had an interest in serving in the military, but medical school, establishing a medical practice, and having three kids along the way meant putting off that aspiration.

Finally, with his family settled in Cooperstown, his practice established, and the realization that at age 39, he needed to join the military now or never, he decided to seek a commission in the Army Medical Corps.

“The Guard was a perfect fit for me,” he said. “I knew we could stay in our home, Debbie (his wife) and my kids could be secure and fixed in our schools and the community, and I could carry out my military duties.”

LTC LeCates serves as a member of the New York Guard’s Medical Command, or MEDCOM. He conducts medical readiness assessments at Camp Smith Training Site and Fort Drum, and treats Soldiers during training periods.

His service has also meant deploying overseas, including twice to Afghanistan and once to Liberia.

His first deployment in 2010 was with the Iowa Army National Guard’s 334th Brigade Support Battalion at Camp Blackhorse, Afghanistan, as an augmentee to the battalion’s medical company.

LTC William LeCates, shown on deployment in Liberia, serves as a doctor in the New York Army National Guard and as a kidney specialist in private practice. He said that his service in the Army Guard has given him a greater breadth of medical knowledge benefiting both his civilian and military patients.

LTC William LeCates, shown on deployment in Liberia, serves as a doctor in the New York Army National Guard and as a kidney specialist in private practice. He said that his service in the Army Guard has given him a greater breadth of medical knowledge benefiting both his civilian and military patients.

LTC LeCates worked in a barebones medical clinic – “Role 1” in military parlance – where the job was to provide basic primary care, emergency treatment for injuries and wounds, and stabilize patients so they could be transported to more sophisticated treatment facilities.

His second three-month deployment, the standard for reserve component doctors, was in New Kabul Compound, an American military facility in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital city, in 2013.

This time he worked at a major U.S. forces headquarters as one of the physicians for 800 American personnel. The compound was also adjacent to an Afghan military hospital, where he worked with Afghan medical personnel to treat casualties.

LTC LeCates’ most recent deployment was a six-month non-combat mission to the West African country of Liberia, where he had an opportunity to see medical care at both the individual and large-scale levels, as the country dealt with the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak.

“The country is small enough, and the cities are close enough, that in a single day I could be in a Liberian clinic looking at young kids that are getting malaria, and in the evening I could be working at the ministry of health and helping to understand their Ebola response efforts.”

Overall, his military experience has been a tremendous benefit to his work as a doctor back home in Cooperstown, a place he chose for his career because he gets to perform complicated, challenging medicine in a small-town setting, LTC LeCates said.

“I think military leadership training is the best type of leadership training available,” he said. “I am fortunate in my civilian job to have an opportunity for a medical administrative role here at the hospital, and that [military] training in mentoring and motivating helps.”

The military medical system is also very effective at using lessons learned, and making on-the-spot improvements in clinical care, he added.

“The civilian sector is slower at those changes. It has given me a chance to look at how a big system can bring about changes to make improvements,” LTC LeCates said, adding that military doctors have pioneered new trauma care techniques on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, and knowing those skills is always useful.

“The Army is very good at training its deploying doctors to understand the basics of point-of-injury care, and how to keep the Soldier safe,” he said.

So, if you have an interest in the medical field and serving in the Army National Guard, you don’t have to wait until you’re done with medical school to join. Visit our job board to learn more about these Guard careers:

68W Health Care Specialist

68X Mental Health Specialist

68P Radiology Specialist

68E Dental Specialist

68S Preventive Medicine Specialist

68G Patient Administration Specialist

68K Medical Laboratory Specialist

68J Medical Logistics Specialist

Experienced nurses, doctors, and veterinarians also are needed. Contact your local recruiter to learn more about any questions you have.

From an original article by Eric Durr, New York National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in March 2017.

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