Fort Gordon, Georgia –
FORT GORDON, GEORGIA - Later this month, Cortney Mast, in Eisenhower Army Medical Center's Behavioral Health Services, will take part in presenting a research abstract to the Military Health System Research Symposium in Kissimmee, Fla. The study looks at the effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on service members with co-occurring substance use disorders.
Other members of the team are Dr. Christopher Hines, medical director of the Residential Treatment Facility in Behavioral Health, and Joanne Huff, research coordinator. Mast is a 68X behavioral health specialist. She's also a sergeant.
"I was somewhat taken aback when Sgt. Mast approached me about getting involved with research as this is typically something I do with interns and residents," Hines said. "It was quite an honor to find her poster had been accepted to the MHSRS, which is the military's premier research symposium."
Mast's experience in behavioral health, however, is deeper than what is taught at the schoolhouse. Mast earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.
"I wanted to go back to school to become a therapist," Mast said, "but I had racked up some substantial debt while pursuing my [undergraduate] degree.
"I began looking for options to help me pay to go back to school, and learned about the 68X behavioral health specialist Military Occupation Specialty," she said. "I thought this would be a great way for me to gain some experience and pay for school.
"I enlisted in March 2016 after completing my undergraduate degree."
Following her training as a 68X, Spc. Mast was assigned to EAMC.
"I began dedicating myself to gaining clinical experience and learning as much as possible about behavioral health," Mast said. "I also began using Tuition Assistance as soon as I could to begin working on a Master's degree in clinical mental health counseling.
"My plan was to apply for some of the Army-sponsored programs to continue my education. I was interested in the clinical psychology program at the Uniformed Services University and the Army-University of Kentucky Master of Social Work program.
"Interested in expanding my research skills," Mast said, "I embarked on a research project, under the guidance of Dr. Hines, aimed at examining whether TMS is an effective adjunct to substance use disorder treatment in clinically depressed dual-diagnosis service members who are completing the 28-day Residential Treatment Facility program here at Eisenhower."
Mast's abilities and initiative stood out.
"Sgt. Mast has a keen intellect," Hines said. "She worked diligently to develop an additional database comparing TMS' effects as an additive benefit to service members undergoing acute rehabilitation."
It was that research that was selected for presentation at the symposium Aug. 19-22.
But the good news and opportunities for Sgt. Cortney Mast don't end there.
After receiving the symposium invitation, Mast received word that she had been accepted into the Army-University of Kentucky Master of Social Work program, housed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and will direct commission as a second lieutenant in September.
"Since being accepted into the symposium, I have continued to expand our clinical database," Mast said. "We hope we can get a paper published from the data once it is complete."
Even with her direct commissioning in September and the upcoming change of venue to Fort Sam, Mast will keep EAMC with her wherever so goes.
"I feel fortunate to have had the opportunities that Eisenhower has given me," she said. "I look forward to applying the knowledge and experience I have acquired in my next chapter."