Full-time psychological health support available to VaARNG

Jonathan Goldwire, the Director of Psychological Health for the Virginia Army National Guard, speaks with a Virginia National Guard Soldier Feb. 19, 2020. Goldwire, a citizen Soldier himself, knows intimately the unique challenges National Guard members face and he desires to ensure that all members of our force are aware of the services that are available to them. (U.S. National Guard photo by Mike Vrabel)

RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Army National Guard increased the level of mental health support services it offers in August 2019 with the addition of a full-time director of psychological health. In that role, Jonathan Goldwire, a licensed master social worker, strives to extend mental health support to the VaARNG  community by offering an array of services while also acting as a liaison between service members and mental healthcare providers, chaplains and other health care providers in the community.

“Soldiers face common stressors related to difficulties paying bills, we experience disruptive life events like divorces and loss of employment, and we encounter unexpected traumas in life like losing a loved one,” said Goldwire. “Yet despite all of this, Soldiers are expected to maintain a state of readiness and vigilance at home and while deployed. So, when faced with all of these different things that life throws at you, the most meaningful and impactful areas in which I can help is by helping Soldiers gain access to resources to help them face these issues.”

Goldwire, a Citizen-Soldier himself, knows intimately the unique challenges National Guard members face and he desires to ensure that all members of our force are aware of the services that are available to them. He takes the information provided by a Soldier, then helps the find the best professionals in their community that can help them address what they are facing. 

“The entire process is a team effort, and it empowers the individual to take ownership of their mental health,” Goldwire said.

Goldwire works to ensure that psychological health for service members and their families throughout the VaARNG is effectively addressed. He is passionate about providing education that reduces stigma, confronting misperceptions about seeking mental health treatment, and encouraging and normalizing treatment of issues involving mental health.

“Our Virginia National Guard team of Soldiers and Airmen, members of the Defense Force, state and federal civilians and family members are facing some of the toughest demands on their personal and professional lives in recent memory, but they are rising to the challenge and maintaining incredible levels of readiness and resilience,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “At some point our personnel and their families may face stressors that may impact their health, happiness and readiness. If you are struggling, hurting or find yourself in need of support, there are resources available to help. Resiliency, wellness and fitness strategies and training are continuously improved through our collaboration with medical, behavioral health service providers and community stakeholders who are committed to assisting our team members.”

Williams also stressed that seeking resources or assistance is not a sign of weakness, and teams are stronger if they build bonds of trust.

“Leaders at every level need to foster an environment where their service members feel safe to reach out and ask for assistance if they need it,” Williams aid. “It also is important to not wait until there is some sort of crisis or traumatic event, but be proactive and reach out for support to work through everyday challenges.”

Goldwire provides intervention and care coordination, clinical case management, consultation to commanders and leaders at all levels, resiliency promotion, and he is a link to community-based resources. He can also provide one on one clinical care and support, short term counseling on common issues such as couples conflict, anger management, work place stressors, and communication when necessary.

“The number of resources available to guardsman throughout Virginia are vast,” said Goldwire. “I have had the opportunity to meet and connect with a number of community-based providers from the rural areas of western Virginia, to the densely-populated communities that make up Northern Virginia, to those who enjoy the shorelines and beaches to the east and everywhere in between. There are state, federal, for-profit, non-profit, volunteer, and fee-for-service agencies that specialize in helping service members and they are able, willing and waiting to provide support to service members in the National Guard.”

Although Goldwire rotates between Fort Pickett and the Virginia National Guard Sgt. Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, he travels throughout the state and is easily accessible to Soldiers over the phone. He encourages any Soldier who wishes to connect to do so directly with him. He also encourages family members of our Soldiers to call him on behalf of their Soldier, when necessary.

“I love what I have been called to do, and that is to serve Soldiers,” said Goldwire. “Seeking mental health support has shifted in a more positive manner, and I want to help as many people as I can while I can.”

Goldwire can be contacted at cell 434-480-6463 or email at jonathan.goldwire.mil@mail.mil.

Full list of Readiness and Resiliency Resources: http://go.usa.gov/xdd9F

Additional resources for assistance:

  • Any Soldier experiencing a medical crisis should call 911. 
  • A Soldier experiencing suicidal ideations can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 
  • The Veterans Crisis Line also provides around the clock assistance at 1-800-273-8255, press 1. 
  • Confidential chat can be located at VeteransCrisisLine.net