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EAP gives civilian employees free resources, guidance to work-life balance

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Federal Occupational Health’s Employment Assistance Program is a free service available to all Air Force civilian employees. The program aims to improve the health, safety, and productivity of the federal workplace by providing a myriad of services to its users. (Courtesy U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Brittain Crolley)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Air Force makes sure its men, women and children are taken care of. Its civilian employees are no exception.

In October 2017, the Employee Assistance Program was first offered to Air Force civilians through Federal Occupational Health and Worklife4you. The EAP provides Air Force civilian employees and their families at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, with free resources, benefits and services to help them in their jobs and everyday lives.

“The EAP was a resource that was needed for our Air Force civilians,” said Beverly Barnish, Installation Resilience Operations director. “Military members have a 24/7 service (Military One Source), but our civilian employees aren’t authorized to use those services. The Air Force determined there was a need and filled that void by contracting with a federal health agency.”

Voluntary services provided through EAP include legal counsel, financial advice, mental health resources, college kits and anything else regarding work-life balance such as counseling for crisis management, substance abuse and relationships.

“EAP provides licensed professional counselors — if you need someone to talk to when suffering from different stressors, there are 24/7 resources for that,” Barnish said. “There’s financial advice, like how to do a budget, and there’s a legal assistance aspect, so you can call and speak to a lawyer — you can get a one-hour consultation for free. There are a range of services for everything from birth to death.”

After she was in a car accident and needed legal advice, Barnish used the services herself. After calling the EAP, she was put in touch with a local lawyer who she met with to get the advice she needed for free.

“To minimize stressors, civilians need folks to talk to, too,” Barnish said. “The EAP is even a great aspect for civilian’s family members. If a civilian employee’s family member is stressed out, any family member in the household can use the resource too.”

If a civilian employee or their family member had an issue they needed to speak with a counselor about, EAP would put them in contact with a counselor face-to-face, depending on the civilian’s insurance, “but they do get free sessions through the EAP,” said Barnish.

The EAP is also available for supervisors of civilian employees, whether the supervisor is an Airman or civilian, Barnish added.

To help improve work-life balance for civilians, Barnish said the EAP also offers free online webinars.

“This month’s focus is on sleep, so there’s a sleep webinar you can watch from your computer and engage with,” Barnish said. “There’s different focuses every month. It’s all about work-life balance — the intent is to minimize stress for the civilian workforce.”