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Don’t be afraid to talk mental resiliency

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. This is the mindset the Air Force would like Airmen to have when it comes to their mental fitness — one of the four pillars in Comprehensive Airmen Fitness.

Talking to a friend, colleague, supervisor or just having someone listen can improve your overall mental wellness and day-to-day living in the military, said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Petersen, 21st Operations Group standardization non-commissioned officer in charge and master resiliency trainer.

“The mental pillar, I believe, is the most significant one we need,” said Petersen. “Being mentally fit for missions will help reduce stress with mission impact, because we can deploy anytime.”

“So with that aspect, being mentally resilient and being able to adapt to different atmospheres and conditions will help you actually reduce the fears and stress you deal with on a day-to-day operation, especially being away from family and friends or being in isolated areas.”

It took Petersen a while before he sought out help. He said he waited almost nine years, when he became a staff sergeant, to seek resources after joining the Air Force.

“You have the taboo of mental health in the military, especially for males,” Petersen said. “Military males are supposed to be strong, not show emotions, stuff like that. But just because you go to seek it doesn’t mean you’re broken, it doesn’t mean something’s wrong.”

After using the resources available to him, Petersen said he saw mental wellness differently.

“I actually think you’re stronger to go get help, because that shows you understand your body and you understand your emotions,” Petersen said.

In addition to counseling services offered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Airmen should talk to their leadership when feeling worse than usual, said Petersen.

“There are a lot of times when people feel sketchy bringing up some of the mental aspects, but the key thing is if you’re feeling depressed or feeling down, or anything like that, just bring it up,” he said.

“Being mentally fit is getting into a routine, especially for deployments. Getting into a certain routine lets the days go by a little bit quicker. I know it’s hard to do this, but don’t worry about stuff you can’t control.”

Whether Airmen go through a permanent change of station, relationship issues, financial problems, or move out of the dorms for the first time, Peterson AFB has many resources available, Petersen said.

“We have the chapel, mental health, MRTs, resiliency training assistants, supervisors, friends — just reach out and talk to someone,” Petersen said. “A lot of this stuff is just talking it out, which will actually help people calm down and get over a lot of those stresses and worries they have.”

Editor’s note: This is the second article in a four-part series on the Comprehensive Airmen Fitness pillars.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui