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Editorial: A killer among us

Posted 5/9/2012   Updated 5/10/2012 Email story   Print story


by 2nd Lt. Jeff Kelly
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/9/2012 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A killer may be lurking in your home or in your office.

This silent and deadly enemy threatens your safety and the safety of those around you. It must be dealt with or it will never go away.

Service members are known to act quickly and decisively in order to neutralize most threats. However, when it comes to this known killer service members often choose to do nothing.

This killer is stress. Doing nothing will not help you rid yourself of stress. It is important to know that seeking help for high levels of stress is OK. If you are dealing with stress realize that you are not alone. The Department of Defense recognizes the risks that stress poses to service members and encourages service members to seek help.

Some doubters might feel like they are simply expected to "suck it up" or "get over it" on their own. They feel like the military's stance on stress is to put up with it and move on.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a fact that not everyone can simply "suck it up" and the DOD does not want you to. Often it takes a concerted effort to treat stress effectively.

"Stress management is very important to me and the Department of Defense," said Col. William Fingar, acting 315th Airlift Wing commander. "It is important that our service members know there is help available. Don't let your pride get in the way of maintaining proper mental health. The days of trying to be tougher than the next guy when it comes to dealing with stress are over."

Some skeptics might also feel that the military does not care if they are dealing with high levels of stress. They say,  'today's high operations tempo creates higher stress levels and the DoD does not want to deal with that result.'

"On the contrary," said Lisa Sweatt, 315th Airlift Wing Airmen and Family Readiness director. "The DOD does care and wants service members to know they are encouraged to seek help if they want or need it. I give presentations to service members and their families which are specifically designed to educate them on stress, how to manage it and avenues they can use to find the help they need. Caring for our people isn't a nicety, it is a necessity."

Still others say DoD is all talk and no action. The DoD talks about stress management but does not provide services to address the issue.

If you ask a military mental health provider, they will tell you a different story.

"I think the military has made tremendous advances in acknowledging and identifying the personal and emotional stressors related to service," said Dr. Scott Berry, clinical psychologist and mental health department head for Naval Health Clinic Charleston.

"Many strategies have been implemented to increase awareness, decrease stigma, decrease negative career consequences for seeking help and increasing resources. Mental health providers are in theater, on ships, and in hospitals and clinics both here at home and overseas. There are groups like Military One Source that provide another avenue of seeking counseling for stressors. We also routinely provide resiliency training to help service members cope with stress, and this is just the tip of the iceberg," Dr. Berry added.

Hopefully by now you are getting the picture. Seeking help for stress is not only OK, it is encouraged. It might just save your life.

Remember, doing nothing will not help rid yourself of this silent killer. Help yourself. Seek help today.

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