Commentary

November 1, 2013

Care for others but care for yourself

Chaplain (Capt.) James Taylor III
14th Flying Training Wing chaplain

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — April 4, 2008, my sister awoke for the last time to a world that had not always treated her with kindness.

We were two weeks shy of her 31st birthday, and six weeks shy of a family wedding … my wedding. April 4 would be the last day I would see her. It would be the last day her six sons would see her.

In the wake of what had become a lifetime of tragedies, she left home with a couple bottles of pills, drove to a nearby farm and called her oldest son to give him a consolation goodbye. “I have nothing left to give,” she told him. There, alone in the dark, she fell to sleep for the last time.

If you are reading this, I can all but guarantee that you too have come to know the sting of such sorrow. Most have been impacted by suicide. Whether it was a family member, a high school friend, a fellow service member, or whether you’ve contemplated in your darkest moments of despair such a frightening decision. Unfortunately, suicide’s past has been all too familiar, and suicide’s future will continue to cause pain and sorrow. However, there are ways we can join together and resource ourselves to quell suicide’s ugly grasp. By raising awareness and equipping ourselves to combat suicide, lives can and will be saved. With that, I submit three initial priorities to guide our deliberations about how we care for ourselves and care for others.

  1. Learn to monitor your own mental, communal, familial and spiritual resiliency.
  2. Enhance the quality of social, spiritual and mental health opportunities for teens and children.
  3. Look for indicators of suicidal intent in others.

Priority No. 1 is self-care. We all know that the second United States Air Force’s core values is “Service Before Self.” We are called to a life of servant leadership, where we place the needs of others before our own, but to do so at the expense of neglecting our own needs proves to be dangerous. An example that highlights the importance of self-care is found when a flight attendant communicates, “In the unlikely event of an emergency … first put your oxygen mask on before helping others.” If you do not practice self-care, you will not be able to consistently care for others. Don’t ever apologize or feel guilty about taking care of yourself.

Improving community resources (our second priority) helps parents to address the needs of youths before they become candidates for suicidal behavior. These community resources develop a child’s innate joys and strengths, which eventually leads to greater resiliency and happiness. Without these avenues, a child’s inner resources might remain untapped. Therapy, along with social and spiritual activities, cannot guarantee an absence of suicidal ideations, but they can help a child cope with life’s struggles. My hope is that we all might become fosterers of growth, hope, and healing for our little ones.

Priority No. 3 is about knowing people. Pay attention to their nonverbal behaviors, their anxieties, stressors, statements, joys and fears. Although some suicides will come suddenly, many follow behaviors and ideations that in hindsight were warning signs that had presented themselves. Proceed by caring for people in such a way that grants permission for back and forth and life-saving conversations when needed.

This is not an exhaustive list. These are just a few commitments I’m making. I’m making them to honor people like my sister, Melissa, and I’m making them to know that I can better care for incredible Airmen like you. I hope you’ll do the same for me.




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


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle

AFAS helps ease financial stress

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle Hiroko Bush, 99th Force Support Squadron community readiness consultant, accepts a Nellis Airman’s Air Force Financial Aid Society application at the Airman and Family Re...
 
 

AF to change instructions for oaths

WASHINGTON — The Air Force has instructed force support offices across the service to allow both enlisted members and officers to omit the words “So help me God” from enlistment and officer appointment oaths if an Airman chooses. In response to concerns raised by Airmen, the Department of the Air Force requested an opinion from...
 
 

Why I became a victim advocate for fellow Airmen

Editor’s note: Though the author chose to remain anonymous, this is the real story of one Airman’s experience with sexual assault. Be mindful that no two sexual assault stories are the same. If you, or anyone you know, has been or is currently a victim of any sexual crime, contact the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator...
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler

USAF A3, former USAFWS commandant visits Nellis

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler Lt. Gen. Burton M. Field, deputy chief of staff of Operations, Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., is sprayed by his wife Lisa after hi...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria Sneed

Shedding light on patient advocates

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria Sneed Master Sgt. Bryan Anderson, 99th Medical Group patient advocate, speaks with a patient at the Mike O’Callaghan Federal Medical Center on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Sept. 15....
 
 

F-35 on time to deliver global security, Air Force official said

WASHINGTON — Work leading up the completion of the multinational F-35 program is largely on track, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office executive officer said in remarks during the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 15. Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan reported steady progress across all elements of...
 




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