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Hendra Brings Emotional Leadership to Medical Post

  • Published
  • By By Tech. Sgt. Steve Wilkins
  • 145th AW Public Affairs
Col. Jill L. Hendra began establishing a new culture here when she took command of the 145th Medical Squadron October 3. Succeeding retiring Col. Robert Taylor, Hendra is a Board Certified psychiatrist who has been participating in a National Guard Bureau emotional resiliency project at the national level for the last two years.

The majority of her professional life has been spent in emergency psychiatry. So, much of her interest is in creating conditions to help others avoid mental distress.

She hopes the findings of her work will trickle down to her charges in the Medical Squadron. "This is an exciting time to be involved in psychological issues, because we're finding that so many of the factors modifying our thoughts are organic." Hendra says recognizing the organic nature of stress and other contributors to mental health allows for a more holistic approach to proactively treat psychological distress; like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mind, body and spirit comprehensively are the targets of a healthy psychological profile, says Hendra. She says approaches encouraging health in each of these areas do much more for Soldiers and Airmen than simply addressing mental stimulation.
She insists that individuals can help themselves become more resilient to conditions they encounter in the field by taking care of their hearts, their bodies and their brains before, during and after deployments. The Defense Center of Excellence program, "Comprehensive Soldier Fitness" is an Army-targeted program to help soldiers maintain their health comprehensively. Hendra says there is merit in the program for everyone.
  Hendra also insists that beside each soldier looking out for themselves, their buddies must step up. "Each of us should recognize that it's okay to give feedback. You can respectfully say something caring to help another, regardless of rank," she says.

According to Hendra, everyone has a base line of normal activity our associates recognize. "When we step outside that norm, it is up to those around us to recognize it and let us know what they see." Communication, she recommends, is an aspect of mental help that has improved over time, but is an essential part of keeping each other healthy.

The culture she is nurturing in the Base Clinic and around the wing is one in which Airmen communicate better about what they feel and how they can help their co-workers. She says it is about becoming interested in total body care, and that hopefully Clinic personnel will model the mind-body-spiritual walk.

She has served the North Carolina National Guard as a psychiatrist and flight surgeon. She also deployed to support Operation Desert Storm as Commander of the 145 Operating Location Medical Corps. Col. Hendra's service includes a position as State Air Surgeon, where she provides input as "the primary liaison between individual Army & Air medical/aeromedical evacuation units, the Adjutant General and the Army/Air Surgeon on force protection medical issues, medical aspects of homeland security and other medical matters."

Hendra served the Public Health Service immediately after her residency, then settled in Charlotte, NC with Carolinas Healthcare System, directing their adult inpatient and specializing in emergency psychiatry. Among her responsibilities with the Medical Squadron, Hendra will direct the operation of several units comprised of 300 Airmen.