Every professional finds their inspiration in different ways.
For Debbie Satterfield, Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune’s Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program’s (SARP) lead counselor, being her college dorm’s listening ear sparked her passion for counseling.
That blossomed into a 28-year-long counseling career that recently earned her the recognition as the Navy’s Civilian Counselor of the Year.
Satterfield was named counselor of the year after a nomination from her leadership, and then committee decision.
The recognition was more for the entire SARP team than just herself, explained Satterfield.
“It was very humbling. I know we have a good program. I know we have a good staff. I know we all work hard every day to give our patients the best that we can,” she said. “To be recognized for all my years of service and also recognize what we do here at camp Lejeune I think that’s very important for the Navy to know, and the Marine Corps that we’re doing some good stuff here.”
For nearly three decades, Satterfield has worked in counseling, coming to NMCCL as a SARP counselor in 1990.
Counseling has been always present in her life, even sparking her college major decision.
“When I was in college, I was kind of the ‘Dear Abby’ of my dorm,” she explained. “Everyone would come to my room and we’d talk.”
Substance abuse counseling started on a more personal level, explained Satterfield, when the service member she was dating began treatment.
As a family member working with someone within a substance abuse program, Satterfield was inspired to continue her counseling career helping individuals and family members like her significant other and herself.
Since joining NMCC’s SARP team, Satterfield and her team have worked diligently to support their patients through treatment as well as change any negative views attached to the program.
“We can’t take it for granted the expansion and the recognition that mental health and substance abuse are related,” said Satterfield. “I think we do a really huge service for our service members in the mental health field that has been recognized now. It’s not as stigmatized as it was…We still have a long way to go. People still don’t feel as comfortable. We are getting a lot more self-referrals…That’s a big reason I continue to do what I do. I think it works.”
Before working with service members through NMCCL’s SARP, Satterfield worked for various hospitals and community health clinics.
Making a difference in the lives of military members is a main part of what has brought the “joy” to her long career.
“You’re working with military folks and they’re trained warriors. They do their job and they do their job well. Our mission is to get them back to being mission ready. That’s what we try to focus on is helping them be the best person and best Marine or Sailor or Soldier or Coast Guardsman, that they can be,” said Satterfield.
Just as her patients are learning various skills to handle their substance abuse struggles, Satterfield learns daily vital skills from her patients.
Working with different generations has brought to light the changing times of society, and being able to connect with patients by letting them be her teacher has been a highlight of her career.
“You have to be flexible and being open minded for sure. You can’t be judgmental. Sometimes it is hard, but it’s really a joy to work with these guys,” said Satterfield.
Through group sessions, mentoring of the other SARP staff, and various other duties, no day is the same for Satterfield, except for wanting to better people’s lives.
“I enjoy the people. I enjoy our staff. I think it [SARP] helps make a difference,” said Satterfield. “A lot of our patients are in their early 20s, but if we can plant the seed so when they do leave here or leave the Marine Corps, and something they heard or learned might help them make better decisions in the future. I think we do that and that really makes it worth getting up in the morning.”
For those wanting more information on NMCCL’s SARP program, call 910-451-1175.
|Date Posted:||05.21.2019 11:37|
|Location:||CAMP LEJEUNE, NC, US|
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