May is Mental Health Awareness month and this year it comes during a time of uncertainty and physical distancing that can be hard on everyone.
Mental health plays a huge role as a priority for the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, or AFW2, which sprung the creation of the Wellness and Resiliency Program.
The WAR team’s goal is to help ensure there is a resilient community being built and maintained throughout all areas of a wounded warrior’s life to include their physical, spiritual, mental and social fitness. During COVID-19, the team assists warriors, caregivers and staff cope with the mental stresses a pandemic can cause.
“The wellness program was created last year due to the increase of Air Force suicides,” said Armando Franco, wellness team lead and resiliency interim. “Resiliency has always been a part of the AFW2 mission, and this program offers a multitude of activities and skills to help enable Airmen to make sound choices.”
During this time it may be hard, almost impossible, for people to get out of, not only their homes, but their own heads and create a positive energy within themselves. Some activities that the WAR team teaches on live social media are journaling, different forms of art, improv, resiliency skills and live music. All activities apply resilience skills in day-to-day living in order to promote healthy wellness.
“Keeping a healthy mental state during this time is more important than before because many people have never had to focus on it as much as they do now,” said Candace Escobedo, WAR program manager. “The activities and skills taught through our program will help people maintain a well-balanced healthy lifestyle to continue beyond this pandemic.”
There are many resources available to help people through difficult times like these to include websites, social media groups, phone apps and many 24/7 hotlines. If you find yourself just needing a short breather, put some music on and dance, tackle a quick workout, do a puzzle or just step out in your yard and get some fresh air. Most importantly, make sure to stay socially connected to family and friends, even if it is a simple text. Always check on one another.
“Be mindful of where you are and the here and now,” Armando said. “Join our events and witness for yourself the love, compassion and growth they can provide you.”
AFW2 is hosting daily virtual socials live on Facebook to help everyone get through their stay at home. Visit the program’s Facebook page to hear stories of resiliency and engage in wellness activities hosted by Air Force wounded warriors. For additional information, visit www.woundedwarrior.af.mil to refer an Airman to the program, read about the program’s mission, or learn about additional services offered to caregivers and families.