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NEWS | July 8, 2015

Airman strives to inspire others

By Senior Airman Breonna Veal 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Before joining the military, Colorado-native, Airman 1st Class Haley Benson, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron behavioral health technician, was a volunteer connoisseur who was always interested in bettering the community. From "gifting" during the holiday season to planting trees, Benson strives to help others the best way she can.

When Benson enlisted into the U.S. Air Force at 22, she wanted to work with aircraft and never saw herself in the medical field. That is, until a behavioral health technician slot opened up.

"When I was thinking about joining the Air Force, I was struggling with paying loans and actually knowing what I wanted to do," said Benson. "I did know that I really wanted to be put in a position where I can help people find their full potential and then I was given the opportunity to work in mental health."

As a behavioral health technician, Benson performs patient intakes, assesses stress levels in workplaces, provides depression management courses and much more. But more importantly, she helps Airmen and their families manage conflicts and better their lives.

"Being a part of the behavioral health clinic has definitely molded where I want to go in life," said Benson. "Not only do I get to see progress in people's lives and military careers, but their family and social lives as well. Being able see people bloom as they conquer the four pillars [of comprehensive fitness] amazes me."

Benson said the next step for her military career is to earn her acceptance to Officer Training School and become a social worker for the Air Force. 

In the meantime, Benson is part of a resiliency team through the 633rd MDOS Behavioral Health clinic which is designed to help assess stress levels in the squadrons across Langley Air Force Base.

"Once I assess the stress levels of the squadron, I tailor my educational classes to meet the needs of those Airmen," said Benson. "From the assessment, I can offer sleep deprivation classes for first responders or stress management for the intelligence squadron. My goal is to prevent Airmen from coming into behavioral health when it's too late."

All in all, Benson wants to help everyone, regardless of rank.

"Being a mental health technician, I have to realize that [Airmen of] all ranks in the military may be dealing with things," said Benson.  "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether an Airman is a general or an airman first class. Military changes such as permanent changes of station, deployments and career deviations are not singular to a specific rank. When it comes down to it, everyone struggles with something."

Not only does Benson work hard as a mental health technician, she strives to help the Airmen she represents as the president of Langley's Airmen Committed to Excellence.

"Having been raised by two Air Force veterans, I have always wanted to lead," said Benson. "I want to help Airmen out as well as be a good example of someone who accomplishes all of their dreams. Being a mental health technician has greatly impacted my abilities as the president of ACE, not only with communication skills, but with being confident and strong for me and others."

Langley's ACE is not the only thing in which Benson participates. She is also the vice president of the 633rd Medical Group Booster Club and a dorm council event guru. She also takes time out of her schedule to work with the 633rd Force Support Squadron's Single Airmen Initiative.

While Benson's friends and coworkers describe her as a headstrong, natural leader and philanthropist with a "goofy nature", she wants everyone to be leaders.

"I want all Airmen to know that they are not stuck in a position where they cannot move [in their career]," said Benson. "Sometimes complacency can have people feeling down about themselves and their Air Force lives, but talking to the right people will not only uplift them but help them become the leader they deserve to be."