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Service members choose resiliency at ASAB

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Daryn Murphy
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The constant barrage of agencies highlighting all the resources available to those struggling with mental health is not an uncommon theme during the holidays. The time of year, a worldwide pandemic, and living in a deployed environment may not make for the most ideal conditions for people.

Airmen from the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, are taking these struggles seriously and opening up about them during a suicide prevention seminar held Dec. 15, here.

“I started having ideations and at that point, I realized that I needed help,” said Tech. Sgt. James Blaz, 386th AEW Finance paying agent and seminar speaker. “It’s okay to get help. I’m going on 19 years of active service. I sought out mental health. I saw help and I’m still here today.”

The head on approach taken by Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and 386th AEW Chaplain was used to encourage feedback and interaction from audience members by engaging conversations with tough questions.

Not only did they speak on processes to identify potential warning signs, but they humanized the gripping reality that it’s uncomfortable to ask for help and ask others if they’re hurting.

“In the world we live, sometimes it’s a culture for us to have hammers, looking for nails instead of having to find ways to be less punitive and more preventative.”” said Capt. Thomas Simmons, 386th AEW Chaplain, “You're asked to…get these folks back to the families that they represent. At the end of the day, it starts with you.”

The seminar was a way for professionals in each respective career field to explain the processes that personnel go through in scenarios that involve mental health. The helping agencies were able to dispel rumors and help eliminate the stigma that it’s not okay to not be okay.

“What most people do with mental health, they wait until there is overwhelming evidence,“ said Lt. Col. John Batka, 386th Expeditionary Medical Group Operational Medical Readiness Flight commander, “It is exceedingly unlikely that mental health or your mental health treatment in your career ends up impacting your career, it’s the fact that you have untreated mental health problems that will.”

The seminar helped explain to members to take care of themselves and wingmen around them.

“The Air Force is temporary, your life and your well-being in your family is what's going to be with you after you get out of the military.” Blaz said.

“Please raise your hand and ask for help.”

Resources: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), TTY: 1-800-799-4889, online chat support 1-800-342-9647, online chat support

386th AEW Chaplain: DSN 442-5152

386th EMDG Mental Health Clinic: DSN 442-2273 (442-CARE)