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A call to action

  • Published
  • By Capt. Dennis R. Bourdo II
  • 375th Medical operations squadron
Comprehensive Airmen Fitness should be a priority for every supervisor, commander and leader. The Mental Pillar is one important component of CAF. May is National Mental Health Month and this year there are two important themes: "Do More for 1 in 4" and "Healing Trauma's Invisible Wounds."

The first theme refers to the fact that one out of every four American adults live with a diagnosable and treatable mental health condition. These individuals can live full and productive lives with adequate treatment and support. The second topic focuses on how traumatic events can impact individuals and communities.

Both of these topics are closely related to Comprehensive Airman Fitness and resiliency. Life has many obstacles. Resiliency is all about how well you are able to deal with those obstacles. It is a worthwhile venture to explore how these topic areas relate to Comprehensive Airman Fitness and resiliency and how we can answer the call to action.

The concept of having and being a Wingman is a crucial part of our Air Force culture. We look out for each other. We keep each other safe. Being a good Wingman is synonymous with answering the call to action. It is highly likely that some of our Airmen are silently struggling with mental health concerns. I believe we can do more for our "1 in 4" Airmen. You don't need an advanced degree in a helping profession to help a colleague in need. This can be achieved in many simple ways. First, keep an eye out. By doing so you'll be more likely to notice a difference in the behavior, frequency of socializing, mood, or energy level in a fellow Airman with whom you have frequent contact. Second, check-in with him or her. A simple, "Hey, how are you doing?" can make a difference. Third, allow time for further dialogue. Let your wingman know that you are open to talking about things if he or she needs someone to talk to. You don't need to solve his or her problems--often, just being heard and listened to can go a long way.

Resiliency is an important topic. We should all be striving for physical, mental, social, and spiritual wellness in our lives. But what happens when we encounter something traumatic--something so threatening, shocking, or horrifying that we end up "getting stuck?" This is the question that gets at the heart of healing trauma's invisible wounds. The answer is that we do not need to suffer in silence. Increasing numbers of professional mental health staff across the different branches of the Department of Defense continue to have the privilege and opportunity of being trained in the gold standard treatments for trauma-related issues. Don't allow yourself or a fellow Wingman to suffer in silence. There is hope for healing.

There was once a time of greater stigma in our military for those members who sought mental health treatment. Getting help was viewed as some sort of personal deficit or weakness. Thankfully, we are getting away from this mentality. Seeking assistance when we are struggling is less of a sign of weakness and more of a sign of insight, strength, and desire to bolster resiliency. We have a call to action as individuals and as a community. If you would like assistance improving wellness in any of the four pillars of resiliency, there are numerous options available to you including members of your unit, Chaplains, the Health and Wellness Center, Airman and Family Readiness Center, your Primary Care Manager, and the Mental Health Clinic. These are great resources to help you and your Wingman answer the call.