Admitting a child or teen to a residential treatment program can be a difficult experience for parents and their child. For a military family stationed overseas who decides to place their child in a U.S.-based center, anxiety and fear can increase dramatically.
Over the past several years, The Barry Robinson Center (BRC) has supported nearly three dozen families – and counting – through what could be a very difficult transition. These military families stationed in Europe and the Pacific regions appreciate the high level of service BRC provides for them.
“Working with an international admission is not business as usual. It’s a big deal,” said BRC Vice President Dr. Chuck Brooks. “It’s very scary for the parents. Their child may be coming to us from acute hospitalization. We need to be empathetic and do whatever we can to make the admission as easy as possible.”
This might mean scheduling calls with families and providers at 3 a.m. Virginia time, to accommodate time zone differences. It’s also meant meeting families at the airport after midnight and escorting them to campus. And on campus, the staff handles these after-hours admissions efficiently and compassionately.
“We met one family from Korea at the airport around 1 a.m. We were able to drive our car onto the tarmac to meet the father and his child who flew in on a medical transport,” Brooks recalled. “They’d been traveling for so long, and the child asked if we had anything to eat. So, we stopped at Denny’s for a meal before heading to campus.”
That kind of concern and attention to detail means a lot to military families, he said. These actions go a long way to reassure parents during a traumatic time.
“We were impressed by how proactive the staff were during the admission process,” said the father of a child in treatment at BRC. “We had so much going on and you worked with us to make it as stress free as possible.”
Another parent whose child is in treatment at BRC shared a similar positive experience.
“I could not ask for a more personable staff. They all make you feel like they are only a phone call away,” said the mother. “The key personnel each introduce themselves and let you know their role and how to contact them if need be. This was amazing to me as they have been put to the test when I have had questions or concerns about anything from the schooling to visitation to accommodations. The team leaders are also absolutely wonderful and pivotal in making my child feel welcome and secure.”
All parents want to find a treatment facility with a team they can trust, said Rob McCartney, BRC’s CEO.
“With admissions from overseas, where parents cannot travel to us quickly, the issue of trust becomes even more critical. Trust is not something that should ever be given but should be earned,” he said. “I believe BRC has earned the trust of the military community with our transparency, communication and quality treatment program.
Often when a child or teen needs treatment in the United States, overseas providers look for a facility close to another family member, such as a grandparent. That makes sense, to provide a family connection for the child, but doesn’t always take into account the child’s diagnosis or whether the facility may be the best fit.
“Our child’s case manager referred us to BRC. Being overseas, we were given an overwhelming list of residential treatment centers by region and state. She referred us to BRC knowing the needs of my child and their comprehensive and holistic approach to healing,” said a mother. “She also was aware of success stories that came from BRC. To have my child’s psychiatrist give us his affirmation made our decision even more solidified.”
BRC is one of the nation’s premier residential treatment centers for military-connected children and teens. Working with military and civilian providers around the world, BRC’s staff understands what military parents need. Over time, they’ve developed effective practices and relationships to support parents with insurance approvals, transportation and lodging.
Because BRC works exclusively with military-connected families, children and teens admitted for treatment quickly fit in. They find other residents and staff who understand the military lifestyle. It’s not unusual for a resident to discover someone who has been stationed in the same locations as their family. These points of connection help residents feel more comfortable and ready to work on their treatment goals.
BRC’s solid reputation in the military community continues to grow. For example, McCartney and Brooks received invitations to speak at annual conferences for the Society of Uniformed Services Psychiatrists in 2019 and coming up later this year.
“After doing my own research on several different treatment facilities based on other recommendations and reviews, I was impressed the most by BRC and their overall extensive and all-embracing approach to healing,” a resident’s mother wrote. “When I saw how the team of professionals work together for the mending and healing of each individual, I knew this was the place for us. When finally getting to meet and talk with them about the program, I was certain we made the right decision.”