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380AEW Article

Hispanic Heritage Month Highlight: Capt. Cyanela Hernandez Borrero

  • Published
  • By TSgt Jeffrey Grossi
  • 380 AEW
Capt. Cyanela "HB" Hernandez Borrero, a Clinical Psychologist assigned to the 380th Expeditionary Medical Squadron, was born and raised on the island of Puerto Rico. From a young age Hernandez Borrero was influenced by the medical field and the military.
“My parents own a clinical lab on the island which provides independent support to patients and medical professionals," said Hernandez Borrero. "I grew up in the health industry and love to listen and help others with their challenges in life. I have also been surrounded by veterans throughout my life. My grandfather, age 103, is an Army veteran and my husband is an AF veteran."
While her husband was stationed in England, "HB" worked within the Education Department, and had the opportunity to meet and work with Airmen.
"I recognized the extreme need for mental health care professionals," said Hernandez Borrero. "I not only assisted Airmen with their educational goals, but I also listened to their relational problems and observed their challenges with alcohol use."
Using her Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology, a strong desire to help people, and her fluency in the Spanish language, led to a position as a bilingual federal investigator in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"I felt compelled to do more," said Hernandez Borrero. "This pushed me to pursue my doctoral degree in Psychology, with an end goal to help service members."
Although this required a move away from Puerto Rico, leaving the island was always a part of the plan.
"I wanted to preserve my passion for Spanish, to share the Hispanic culture of caring, and stand along others to protect our nation," said Hernandez Borrero. "In order to prepare myself for this transition, I applied and completed my internship and post-doctoral degree in Primary Care Behavioral Health with the underserved Spanish-speaking population in Denver, Colo."
While there, "HB" had the opportunity to work with veterans who did not have Veterans Affairs health care and were in need of mental health assistance.
"Hearing their stories made me want to work for the VA and continue to use my Spanish," said Hernandez Borrero. "Therefore, I took a position at a VA office near the Mexican border in Harlingen, Texas. While there, I helped veterans and I used my Bilingual abilities and heritage to connect with them and establish a smooth therapeutic rapport."
While she enjoyed providing therapy, "HB" wanted the ability to intervene and help service members earlier. This led to her consideration of active duty service in order to address difficulties and issues sooner, decrease the stigma around mental health, and to prevent service members from delaying or avoiding needed care.
"My career as a Clinical Psychologist is very rewarding," said Hernandez Borrero. "I enjoy every minute of it! I greatly believe for therapy to be successful, you need a good therapeutic rapport. I try to bring my Hispanic charisma into every encounter to reduce stigma and provide needed help, especially in the Hispanic population that brings its own particular mental health stigma, especially among males."