OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The 595th Command and Control Group recently started hosting resilience tactical pause events for tweens and teens, ages 10-18, held at the Offutt Air Force Base Youth Center.
The events are held to raise awareness, provide resources, and promote positive mental health, due to suicide rates rising an average of 6% yearly for the past five years.
The tweens and teens participate in games and activities with college student volunteers to foster building bonds and creating support systems with their peers, while parents talk with base resource advisors.
The parents and advisors discuss resources available to them on base, such as the Chaplain Corps and the Airman and Family Readiness Center.
In August, a letter was sent to all commanders by Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein that said they have until Sept. 15 to hold their “resilience tactical pause,” during which they will set aside a full day to try to figure out what needs to be done.
In a recent video, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright said the RTP will be a “break in the daily grind”, so units can focus on Airmen and their well-being.
“It won’t be a one-day effort to just check a box,” said Wright. “It will begin a longer-term dialogue between Airmen, command teams, agencies dedicated to helping airmen and families, and the rest of the Air Force.”
The 595th C2G has taken the RTP a step farther by reaching beyond the call of duty and are including all dependents of service members in the resiliency discussion to encompass the total force.
“It’s something that hits close to home,” said Elizabeth Byrnes, University of Nebraska at Omaha student and event volunteer. “After experiencing a loss to suicide my junior year of high school the #bekind movement began. Mental health awareness and suicide prevention are important to me, so I want to be an advocate no matter where it’s at or who it’s with.”
The tween and teen years are often times overwhelming for both parents and children, according to Airman and Family Readiness counselors. Tweens and teens are affected by factors such as, hormonal changes and making difficult choices that will impact their future. When combining these common stressors with a parent deploying or moving every few years, it can be a potential recipe for disaster.
“In my experience when children this age act out, they’re just not sure how to process their emotions. Whether it’s stress, loneliness, or any other emotions, I try to stay calm but that can be hard,” says Kimberly Vasquez, a parent. “Just stay calm, and know that if they’re acting out there’s probably a reason, especially if it’s out of character.”
In order to support readiness and build a healthier, stronger force, leaders must foster and promote resilience among their Airmen and their families.
Team Offutt and leadership should familiarize themselves with available tools and resources to prevent and respond to any crisis. The 595th C2G is leading the way by initiating and scheduling more RTP events in the months ahead.