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NEWS | May 29, 2019

Surviving more than war

By Airman 1st Class Marcus M. Bullock 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places,” —Ernest Hemingway.

Many service members can relate all too well to this quote, but unfortunately, sometimes they don’t realize just how strong they are. Going into war and then trying to adjust afterwards can be a strain on even the strongest willed individuals. Last year, 321 active-duty military members took their own lives while countless others battle their ever-changing mental health on a daily basis.

“I knew I had problems but I didn’t think it was that bad because it was my fourth deployment at the time,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Gulley, 633d Security Forces Squadron flight chief. “I had never had any problems in the past but being in mental health and talking to them with everything that I went through, it can happen. It just builds up over time and everyone experiences trauma in a different way.”

The Mental Health Clinic offers services which allow military members to go in and be able to talk to someone about anything they might be going through. Gulley attributes being able to go to someone who is just there to listen, as a tool that has helped him greatly.

“For me with mental health, it truly was a godsend because it’s nice to go and talk to someone that is genuinely listening and caring,” said Gulley. “They’re not passing judgment on you, they’re there to listen to your story and based on their experience and training to find whatever tool in their toolbox works best for you.”

Aside from the one-on-one help offered by mental health, other programs offer service members group settings where they are able to interact with service members who might be going through similar experiences.

“Another thing that really helped me out was a program called the Back On Track program for all branches of services to get together and talk about combat-related stresses or PTSD and everything that we went through,” said Gulley. “After being there for a few days, we didn’t see each other as other branches of service because we were all there for the same issues and all had the same experiences. We were all there just to get help.”

Mental health is not something that has to define you, rather it should be the catalyst for making you a stronger person.

“Don’t let it define you because sometimes it does consume you, and you don’t think there’s any hope,” said Gulley. “You have to seek those services that are available to you because I am living proof, it saved my life.”

It may be hard to talk about the subject of your own mental health, but it’s surely something that cannot be ignored. The things that service members have been through might not be easy to talk about, but it’s a topic that shouldn’t be locked away.

Don’t be afraid to go to mental health or ask anyone for help because losing even one service member to mental health is too many.

For more information, contact the Mental Health Clinic at (757) 764-6840 and learn about all the services they provide.