Commentary

August 22, 2013

Getting a little awkward

Commentary by Staff Sgt. Marissa Tucker
502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — Out of the more than 20,000 people in the Joint Base San Antonio community, where do I fit in?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself several times since I arrived here, and while I know my primary job, I like to think I serve another purpose. It causes me discomfort on an everyday basis and sometimes I feel like I’m making a fool out of myself, but I do it anyway.

I speak to everyone I encounter, every day. It gets pretty awkward sometimes, because even though my job requires me to speak to strangers frequently, I’m still a bit of an introvert. Sometimes it’s easy and the person responds, some people just walk past and sometimes I get strange looks.

So why do I keep doing it?

Because in 2012, at least 349 service members committed suicide.

Maybe I’ve never met any of them and maybe there was nothing anybody could do, but we just don’t know who is next. My small part in the battle against suicide is to simply acknowledge that people exist and let them know I’m glad I saw them that day.

It might go unnoticed by many, but maybe I’ve come across someone looking for a reason or a sign not to hurt him- or her-self or to know someone cares. I might never know if it works, but I never want to know what happened when they needed it and no one was there.

It’s a grim thought, but it’s a fact that the number of suicides in the military is increasing each year. Chances are there’s going to be more before 2014.

Although we have numerous resources at our disposal such as resiliency programs, free and confidential access to mental health professionals, chaplains and many other avenues to help service members cope with suicidal thoughts, I think one small thing we can all do is reach out to those around us, even the ones that seem happy all the time.

No online or mass training can beat one-on-one interaction. While these tools can prepare us to notice the signs of suicidal behaviors, what helps us apply these skills is getting to know the people around us.

How can we know if someone is exhibiting the signs if we don’t know anything about them?

It’s impossible to meet everyone, but if we all took an active role getting to know the people in our own workplaces and mini communities, imagine how many people we could reach? What if they need just one person to ask how they are doing that day? Wouldn’t it be worth it to get a little awkward?

It’s not enough to go about your day worrying only about yourself as if 349 of our sisters and brothers-in-arms didn’t die at their own hands last year. As if more than 100 haven’t died the same way this year. The stats tell us there are going to be more. What are we going to do to prevent it?

One situation I’ll always keep in mind is about an Airman who worked in the dining facility at my first base. His demeanor was always cheerful and fun and people seemed to love being around him. The last thing I remember about him is asking if he wanted to buy gifts as part of a Valentine’s Day fundraiser. Being the kind guy he was, he bought ten, one for each of the females in his flight.

A few weeks later as we received media calls and queries about this Airman after he committed suicide, I began hearing the backstory about his struggles. He wore a smile, but he had struggles in his career, which most people did not know about and that ultimately led to his decision to end his life.

At the memorial, his close friends, still in a state of confusion, spoke about their friend who seemed to love life- the guy most of us assumed was happy and well adjusted. So if you have the chance, ask someone how they are doing and stick around for the answer. Make it a little awkward if you have to.

It might be the only sign they get that day that someone cares.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Financial responsibility — vital to readiness

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — In the “Band of Brothers” miniseries, there is a line in the movie where the soldiers are told to make sure they sign up for life insurance to ensure their next-of-kin gets $10,000 upon the soldier’s death. While none of us are about to make a combat jump in 1944 to...
 
 

Adapt, overcome, succeed

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Change is inevitable, especially in today’s Air Force. If you’ve been serving for more than a few years, it’s likely you’ve experienced everything from new physical fitness requirements to the implementation of force management programs. Enlisted performance reports and feedback forms have been altered and changes to the promotion system are...
 
 

Maintenance versus repair … of our Airmen

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. (AFNS) — This commentary is not about aircraft, vehicles, or even any mechanical components. It’s about our Airmen and how we manage their care and development throughout their careers. The maintenance versus repair concept is borrowed from the maintenance community and speaks to how maintenance managers plan, coordinate and...
 

 

Work, family balance success marker

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — “Being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.” — Zig Ziglar In our careers, we frequently hear about the importance of having balance in our life...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Young)

Chaplains help build relationships

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  — Relationships come and go — personal and professional — yet some of them are too precious, or important, and are worth fighting for when the going gets rough. Many people come ...
 
 

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. — In our increasingly secular world, there is a growing misunderstanding that it is safer to say “Happy Holidays” during the Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza season, than to name the specific holiday which you or most other people celebrate. I am always drawn to explore these interesting dilemmas. I once read a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin