#Be There and Save A Life
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Two words are all it takes to possibly save someone. Two words can change a community, a work center, or even a life. “Be there.”
It is a simple phrase, but it is the lead thought behind the Department of Defense’s #Be There Campaign, encouraging people to make everyday connections and build relationships.
The Air Force is committed to preventing suicide, but the task of caring should not be left only to doctors and chaplains. The words #Be There express the importance of Airmen knowing how everyone around them is doing, if they are coping with stress, and most importantly, when help is needed.
“Early resolution of stress helps Airmen maintain a balanced lifestyle which intern allows them to withstand, recover and grow in the face of adversity,” said Maj. Jose Ortega 374th Medical Operations Squadron mental health flight commander. “By strategically throttling back and doing mental check lists of themselves and those around them, Airmen could better ensure that they are sustaining their wellbeing.”
Airmen need to know how to identify common stressors, such as relationship, legal, workplace and financial. Substance abuse and changes in behavior or mood can also be indications of stress. These stresses are risk factors that can lead to thoughts of suicide.
Supervisors, first sergeants, commanders, and peers should be who Airmen are comfortable with coming to for help, and may be more approachable if known on a personal level.
“Leaders are encouraged to remain vigilant on potential stressors and to take immediate action to mitigate negative impact before it occurs,” said Ortega. “Proactive intervention to prevent minor stressors from progressing to a point when there is negative impact of individuals’ physical, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing is necessary.”
“It’s okay to not be okay,” said Master Sgt. Erica Neiser, 374th Airlift Wing chapel operations superintendent. “Life is full of challenges that we have to learn to overcome and work through.”
Having a well-balanced life style and knowing that life’s challenges don’t have to be faced alone is what the wingman concept is all about.
“Wingman ship has a direct correlation to the prevention suicide, it’s an absolutely huge part of the resources network,” Neiser said. “Military life is full of extra stressors that come with sustaining the mission. Working to balance ones social, physical, mental, and spiritual needs, on top of family life and completing the mission, is difficult.”
Some stresses that come with military life can’t be avoided, but the military and Yokota have resources and service to assist Airmen. Wingman Online and Military One Source are great resources, according to Neiser. Airmen also have access to the mental health clinic and the base chapel (available to all religious preferences). Chaplains are 100 percent confidential and also trained in suicide prevention. Military and Family Life Consultants located in the Airman and Family Redlines Center, provide counselling and have the flexibility to meet and talk anywhere at any time. They don’t replace mental health specialists, but they do provide great short-term services, and have knowledge of many helpful programs, according to Ortega.
There are different ways Airmen can continuously #BeThere for fellow service members, friends, family and veterans. More help can be found at the Wingman Toolkit and the Yokota 24-hour suicide prevention hotline at 94-800-273-TALK (8225), or direct dial DSN: 118.