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Boxer gets EPIC

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mikal Chapman
31 October 2023 SAN DIEGO — Resilience plays a critical role in building healthier, cohesive teams and a ready force, and holistic health services for Sailors and Marines are available across the globe and onboard Boxer.

The two Chaplains assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) remain available day or night, and have a deck plate presence. A deployed resiliency counselor (DRC) provides one-on-one clinical care and Boxer’s Medical Department and Fleet Surgical Team 5 provide both physical and mental health services.

Recently, Boxer added another resource with embarkation of the ship’s first Embedded Integrated Prevention Coordinator (EIPC), Jennifer “Jen” Steinberger. Boxer is one of four ships on the Naval Base San Diego waterfront with an EPIC.
The primary mission of an EIPC is to provide resiliency-enhancing training, intervention and prevention programs in support of the Chief of Naval Operation’s Culture of Excellence while embarked.

“I think we’re at a critical time for change and having the prevention workforce in place,” said Steinberger. “There was a time when we didn’t talk about mental health and suicide… it was taboo. And now, we talk about those things. That’s huge, and I want to be part of that change.”

EIPCs are embedded with the crew underway and during deployments. These embedded government civilians live, eat and work onboard right next to the Sailors and Marines to whom they offer guidance. While Steinberger has spent a lot of time working on ships at sea, she has never been permanently assigned to one ship until now.

“I’ve been riding ships for the last 10 years,” said Steinberger. “I’d come in for a week or 10 days and do re-integration training after deployment. I had a little taste of ship riding, but I wasn’t embedded. I was in and out. Now, I’m really here learning new things every day, and I like that; it’s refreshing!”

Along with the DRC, EIPCs work in cooperation with the ship’s chaplains to offer assistance, training and support services to Sailors.

“The amount of resources we have onboard is pretty incredible, we have such a comprehensive mental health team, with EIPC, DRC, [Senior Medical Officer] and the chaplains,” said Lt. Kevin Gilchrist, the ship’s deputy chaplain. “Jen’s great. She knows the Navy well, and she’s eager to plug-in and integrate with everyone onboard.”

EIPC and DRC work together underneath the umbrella of the Fleet and Family Support Center, with each specializing in specific areas to assist and guide Sailors.

“I use the example of a service member transitioning out of the service, which can be a very stressful time, so they may want to talk to DRC,” said Steinberger. “Where I come in, is to help them with searching for a new career or working on their resume, so that part of that stress is alleviated. It’s a two-prong approach, and we all have our different swim lanes in the same pool.”

EIPCs were introduced into the fleet in 2022 and the services they offer as non-clinical life skills educators may not yet be common knowledge.

“Our supervisor likes to say she’s flying the plane as she’s putting the wheels on,” said Steinberger. “Because we are all trying to learn how to best embed with the commands, how to be an asset and how to provide the best quality support that we can.”

Through EIPC, Boxer Sailors are afforded many opportunities for life skills training underway.

“Fleet and Family Support Centers are great, there’s great stuff taught there, but they’re near impossible to get to for Sailors at sea,” said Intelligence Specialist Senior Chief Matthew Siemienski. “I’ve sent Sailors from my department to six or seven different trainings now and I’ll continue to do so. To have our own EIPC onboard is just outstanding and we’re very fortunate.”

EPICS offer classes and life skills lessons in a variety of areas including problem solving, parenting, stress management, communication skills and post-deployment reintegration, and are able to tailor training to meet specific needs.

“Every command is at a different place, so every EIPC is going to need something different, but the fidelity of our curriculum is there. We don’t stray from that,” said Steinberger. “I was assigned to Boxer because of my eight years with Fleet and Family Support Center, I also have the ability to develop curriculum based on the needs of the individual, division or department.”

Steinberger was a military spouse for nearly 30 years and she believes in giving back to the Navy community.
“I think becoming an EIPC really came out of a desire to pay it forward,” said Steinberger. “I loved being a military spouse, I love the Navy. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities that it gave me and it gave our family.”

Steinberger is grateful to have the opportunity to initiate the program on Boxer.

“Part of my motivation for taking this position is to see this program get up and running; but also to know that someday, the most junior Sailor on this ship will be the most senior on another ship, and they won’t think twice about there being an EIPC onboard,” she said. “The program will probably have changed in ways I can’t even imagine, but I will have been there in the beginning and that’s really motivational.”

Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 2841 Rendova Rd. San Diego, CA 92155-5490
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Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 2841 Rendova Rd. San Diego, CA 92155-5490

This is an official
U.S. Navy website

U.S. Pacific Fleet
2841 Rendova Rd
San Diego, CA

Public Affairs Officer

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