“I Wanna Smile Again”: Ft. Jackson Soldier talks about the reality of mental health care

In our nation’s history, more than 41 million Americans have served in the military, putting service above self to protect us and all that the American flag stands for.

While they’re revered as our real-life superheroes, what happens when it’s our heroes who need help?

WACH FOX News spoke with a local soldier about how his own mental health crisis opened his eyes to the lack of available resources, and it’s not just a problem on military bases, it’s affecting the entire country.

“The very high expectations of myself and the office location, I didn’t think anything of it when I got here, and when I got here, you know, I just started having different episodes,” shared Tanisha Crisp.

Crisp is an officer at Fort Jackson.

He joined the army 10 years ago with high hopes of serving his country, but then began experiencing episodes of panic attacks, insomnia and inconsolable crying.

“I was that soldier you always saw smiling, happy, always good at everything, always in charge because that’s how I became an officer,” he told WACH FOX News.

Crisp knew he had to do something.

Knowing that the episodes were the result of two sexual assaults, one of which she says happened at Fort Jackson, she reported it and asked for help.

“But going through that I quickly learned why so many people don’t talk about it or why they don’t do anything about it. I think my first behavior appointment at Fort Jackson took 6 weeks,” he recalled.

Crisp told WACH FOX News it was a 6-week wait to be seen by a therapist, after a doctor diagnosed her with anxiety, depression and PTSD.

WACH FOX News reached out to Fort Jackson to find out how long it takes soldiers to be seen at the Moncrief Army Health Clinic, to which they responded with the following:

“In cases where there is a crisis or suicidal thoughts, patients who come in are seen immediately. For non-urgent therapy visits, an active duty soldier will be seen within 17 business days. Beneficiaries will be seen within 10 days as there is a separate child and family clinic. To see a prescriber, the average waiting time is 10 days.”

As a reference, 17 working days would be at least four weeks closed.

For Crisp, whether it was four weeks or the six he told WACH FOX News it took to see each other, that was too long.

“Once I got to the therapist, it was so bad. It was to the point where I could hardly finish a sentence without crying,” she recalls.

Officials with the Mid-Carolina chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) said waiting for help is a harsh reality across the country, even for civilians.

“What I’m hearing from people is that they’re having a hard time finding providers that will take their insurance, finding providers that will accept new patients, and finding providers that will do in-person meetings,” said Zee Brown with NAMI.

Crisp started outpatient treatment and it worked well for him. That is, until she said duty called her back to work.

Once she returned, attending outpatient treatment was no longer an option, but she said she could be treated at the base.

“And I didn’t feel comfortable going to behavioral health at the base because my chain of command would make comments like they almost knew what I was talking about in my therapy sessions,” Crisp said.

“Therapy doesn’t really work if you can’t be open and honest and you don’t feel like you can trust the person you’re talking to,” Brown added.

Regarding his reports of sexual misconduct and assault, Crisp provided WACH FOX News with documentation to show his whistleblowing efforts.

When WACH FOX News asked Fort Jackson about receiving Crisp’s sexual misconduct/assault report on base, they shared the following response:

Each Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division investigation is unique and has a myriad of aspects involved. CID cannot deny or confirm the existence of any investigation by CID or any other agency we work with, as doing so could jeopardize the integrity of any investigation.

The Criminal Investigation Division declined our interview request.

As for Tanisha Crisp, she still fights for her own well-being every day.

She shared that she still faces threats and harassment for the allegations she made, even for filing protective orders.

Since my interview, she shared that the Fort Jackson Legal Office contacted her about wanting to do more to help her.

With his time remaining in the military, WACH FOX News asked what he hopes will come of it.

“I want to smile. I want to smile again. I want to sleep again,” Crisp said holding back tears. “But I say ‘you’ve just got to keep fighting,’ you can’t give up. Because if you give up, what?

If you or someone you know is struggling, there is help.

Simply dial 9-8-8 for a 24/7 suicide and crisis hotline where people can get the help they need.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness also has resources available.

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