Healthy holidays

by Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Stripes Korea
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 51st Fighter Wing Mustangs aren’t known for taking things easy; making sure we’re ready to Fight Tonight requires constant vigilance and hard work.

The holiday season, however, does provide a slight dip in operational tempo, and there is no better time of year to refocus personal efforts and strengthen your comprehensive airman fitness.

“Regardless of where you find yourself today, there’s always a chance to improve communication, there’s always a chance to reach out and make amends, and this time of year really brings that out in everybody,” said Maj. David Weller, 51st Medical Operations Squadron director of psychological health.

While everyone will deal with different levels of stress, it’s important that each individual understands the different approaches to handling that stress and not letting it consume themselves, said Weller.

Some people don’t require much more than a good run to handle the stress in their lives, but some Airmen might need a more refined approach to staying fit to fight.

“Being in the military, we all have to be physically fit, and we like to recommend that as often as you work out physically, you should [also] work out emotionally,” said Weller. “[It’s important to] learn how to address your feelings and emotions, how they affect your thinking process, your actions and how you interact with others. Being emotionally healthy and fit helps you better engage with people and better deal with stress.”

As important as it is to watch your own health and well-being, it is also vitally important to watch that of your coworkers and family members.

“Our friends are our best counselors out there,” said Capt. Marissa Pena, 51st MDOS suicide prevention program manager. “Just go and talk to somebody that cares, before things get worse.”

If someone begins acting out of the ordinary, it is recommended that action is taken immediately. Simply asking if that person is okay is often enough to begin solving their problems.

“A lot of times, that’s all they’re looking for, someone to check up on them and ask if everything is okay,” said Pena.

There are also several ways to handle the possibility of someone hurting themselves, the most fundamental of which is the ACE system: Ask, Care, Escort. Using this system, Airmen are encouraged to ask if the individual is going to hurt themselves, establish that they care about what happens to the person in question, and to not leave them alone and take them to get help in person.

Anyone struggling with thoughts of depression or suicide can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or simply dial 118 on base to use the Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7. There are also a variety of resources available on base that can be used far in advance of down-thoughts turning into something more serious:

51st Medical Group mental health clinic: 784-2148 (available 24/7)

51st MDG emergency room: 784-2500

Chaplain: 784-5000

Military Family Life Consultants: 784-5440

51st Security Forces Squadron: 784-2515


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