Peace of mind Ephrata’s Kline promoted, honored by Army

By on January 30, 2013

By: LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Major Kline after the ceremony at the AMEDD Medical Museum at Fort Sam Houston, TX.

On September 21, Richard Kline celebrated his birthday, and his daughter’s promotion to Major in the U.S. Army.

"It was quite a day. My father flew down to Texas to be there for my promotion," said the new Major Michelle Kline.

Michelle Kline is an Ephrata High School graduate, and daughter of Richard Kline and the late CharLee Kline, who died in 2003. She is also the granddaughter of Charles and Elsie Yeager, whose family owned The Ephrata Review for more than 100 years.

"I have very strong Ephrata connections. I always visit my family every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Ephrata is still my hometown," said Kline, 34, who now lives near San Antonio, Texas, and is stationed at Fort Sam Houston with the Army.

Kline is a clinical psychologist with the Army, having earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Franklin & Marshall College. She then earned her Ph.D. in adult clinical psychology from the University of Houston.

Kline might have worked as a psychologist at an office, or in any number of institutions. In fact, she started her career as a prison psychologist, working with the severely mentally ill.

Her career took a new turn in 2006 when she decided to join the Army. Her family was surprised. She had two great uncles who served in the military. But she was the first woman in her family to join the Army. She never regretted it.

"I feel that I have an important role in working with the soldiers," said Kline, adding that the Army now has a much stronger dedication toward the mental health of its personnel.

Kline knows what it is like to be deployed. She served overseas in Iraq for 15 months and then in Afghanistan for three months. While she was in Iraq, she was commended for her service and received the Bronze Star Medal.

According to the U.S. Army, the Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, after December 6, 1941, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, distinguishes himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight.

Kline received her Bronze Star Medal for her service in helping military personnel deal with the psychological issues and challenges that face men and women in time war. As she explains, Iraq was a hostile environment and a third world country with no infrastructure, not to mention no sanitation and such essential things as electricity, trash disposal, water and sewer. The barren land and constant danger provided tremendous stress to those serving their country there.

"Afghanistan is also a very challenging environment," said Kline. "It is crucial to work with servicemen and women to help them work through issues that affect them."

Among those issues are being in the stressful situation of combat, relationship issues at home and with fellow service people and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can sometimes occur long after they return home and try to return to their "normal" lives.

Any deployment working in a stressful environment can affect an individual. Nowadays, there is more awareness in providing medical officers and staff who specialize in mental health to help to diagnose soldiers with symptoms of depression and give medical treatment.

In her role in Iraq, Kline was a mental health officer with 47th FSB, providing initial counseling for soldiers seeking assistance.

"The medical staff provides an environment to deal with the stress of deployment for all soldiers," she said. "We make monthly visits to all command observation posts where our soldiers are located."

As Kline explained, part of the Army’s mission is to bring mental health to the soldiers in order to keep the mission going and also to provide the soldiers the support they need. And that means that the mental health professions go to the soldiers, where they are.

When Kline first joined the Army, mental health professionals were in such dire need that she went directly into active duty. She was stationed at Fort Sam, then went to Baumholder, Germany, before going to Iraq, where she served as Captain.

With her recent promotion to Major, Kline does psychological assessments, and most importantly, she trains and prepares other mental health care personnel.

In the past, many soldiers returned from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and other conflicts, having faced difficult conditions and tragic situations when they lost fellow soldiers in combat. Many never spoke of what they saw or experienced.

"It is very different now. We know so much more about how to help soldiers," added Kline. "And we let them know that the best way to avoid long-term problems is to seek help early." More KLINE, page A16

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