By Joshua Cohen
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
Chuck Brewer has been with the Vermont National Guard for almost three years serving as Director of Psychological Health within the Guard’s Behavioral Services Office at Camp Johnson in Colchester.
According to Brewer, his responsibilities include ensuring Guardsmen are ready to deploy from a behavioral health perspective.
“My primary objective is performing mental health evaluations, this most recent deployment, Soldiers came to my office to receive these evaluations, I help to make sure they are ready to deploy from a mental health perspective,” Brewer said.
Duties also include mental health counseling, briefing various units and keeping commanders informed on mental health issues.
Brewer said a background in philosophy and a master's degree in mental health counseling helped prepare him for the job.
“I went to Boston College where they had a program where one could get a graduate degree in a divinity field and a master's degree in mental health counseling, so I pursued that track with the full intention of becoming a priest.”
Brewer said he decided not to pursue the priesthood, after graduating from Boston College he gained ground-level experience providing mental health services.
“As soon as I graduated from Boston College, I worked in a prison for a couple of years, then in a substance abuse clinic, and before moving to Vermont, I was working with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health where I’d go out into a community and do mental health evaluations as part of a crisis team.”
Brewer has substantial experience growing up on military bases as the son of a Soldier.
“My dad was in the Army, so I grew up an Army brat. I grew up all over; I was in Asia, Europe, and up and down the Eastern seaboard, I often feel fulfilled working here because my father was in the military. I grew up watching Soldiers and being around them, so I’d like to think that I have a natural affinity to care for Soldiers because of my father and my experiences as an Army brat.”
Brewer is concerned some Soldiers may avoid seeking behavioral health services out of fear it will negatively affect their military career.
“There is a myth that we only use 10% of our brain, that’s not true, there’s a myth that says being out in the cold causes you to get sick, that’s not true, and there is a myth here in the Guard that if you have some mental health issues and you go on a profile that you’re torpedoing your career, and that’s also not true.”
He explained that being on a mental health profile is intended to prevent further trauma.
“You get the help you need. We monitor your progress, we make sure you’re doing the things you need to do, and once you feel that your fit to serve, you’re off the profile, and off you go. By no means will being on a profile torpedo your career. If you're going through a hard time and struggling, being on a profile can help keep one’s career intact, it is better to think of being on a profile as a pause,” Brewer said.
“I am committed to the work here; I am committed to the Vermont Army National Guard.”