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By Kristian DePue, Staff Writer, Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
/ Published December 20, 2021
U.S. Air Force Capt. Lindsey Moser, Peterson-Schriever Garrison chaplain, holds a sign while U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Lathaniel Leigh, P-S GAR religious affairs noncommissioned officer in charge, greets incoming cars at the Enoch Gate on Schriever Space Force Base, Dec. 17, 2021. Holiday gate greetings are a tradition at Schriever SFB. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Edwards)
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jessica Ditson, Peterson-Schriever Garrison violence prevention integrator and Angelique McDonald, chief of P-S GAR public affairs mission partner support, hold signs at the Enoch Gate on Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 17, 2021. Throughout the year, Schriever SFB leaders and great commuters have organized and participated in multiple morning greetings before various holidays to spread morale and ensure installation Airman, Guardians and civilians know they matter. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Edwards)
Christopher Ruble, 21st Medical Group x-ray technician, holds a sign at the entrance of the Enoch gate on Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 17, 2021. Peterson-Schriever Garrison units took advantage of the opportunity to share encouraging messages to Airmen and Guardians during the morning commute. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Edwards)
During the early morning hours of Dec. 17, Airmen, Guardians and Department of Defense civilians were warmly greeted with holiday treats, and words of encouragement and strength as they reported for work at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado.
“With the gate greetings, we want to remind our people that they are important, that they matter, and that we see them,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jessica Ditson, Peterson-Schriever Garrison violence prevention integrator.
Throughout the year, Ditson has organized and participated in a morning gate greetings - a candygram delivery - before various holidays. Previously, she joined Airmen, Guardians and members of the United Service Organizations to hand out Halloween chocolates and candies while holding signs with messages of encouragement at the installation Enoch Gate. Ditson mentioned how her appearances at gate greetings has eased introductions and lead to substantial conversations.
“Connectedness is big. Letting Airmen and Guardians know that they belong and that they matter is important,” said Ditson. “We want these gate greetings to be a catalyst, encouraging our people to connect. It also gives us a chance to meet our Defenders — we get to spend a couple hours with them, watching them do what they do, and find out who they are and how they ended up in the Air Force.”
To celebrate the holiday season, candy canes were offered and handed out to those passing through the gate, along with messages of encouragement, courtesy of the P-S GAR Chaplain Corps.
“Some people take them and some don’t — but no matter which, I’ll invariably hear from someone admitting that the candygram said what they needed to hear that day,” said Ditson. “It’s just a small way to connect, and a lot of small things can add up to big connections.”
Whether wearing a uniform or working as a civilian, team members face trials that test their fortitude and the holidays can be a particularly stressful time for many.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Lindsey N. Moser, a chaplain serving the garrison spoke about how each and every Airmen or Guardian matters, and how the holiday season can be a difficult time.
“Everyone associates the holidays with family, but for a lot of military personnel that may not be part of their reality — and that adjustment can be difficult,” said Moser. “Making a point to see family is important, but taking leave is not always an option. I encourage people to take leave and deal with awkward conversations over dinner or the handmade socks from Aunt Betty because it's worth it. If you can't be near, consider a video call or exchange care packages with loved ones that you're geographically separated from.”
Guardians and Airmen shared how they stay strong and resilient during the holiday season — making wingmen their family, staying in touch with loved ones afar, and taking care of both body and mind.
U.S. Space Force Capt. Juan Trujillo, 1st Space Operations Squadron crew commander is currently on a six-month deployment to Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Trujillo highlights the importance of cultivating community.
“I work with a great team. We’ve formed a great camaraderie,” said Trujillo. “Despite a lot of changeover in a deployed environment, I think of them as a family away from home. Although, technology has made it so I’m in touch with family — and able keep up with their progress, activities and successes. I like to think I'm still there with them despite a nine-hour difference.”
Senior Airman Christopher Thao, 50th Communications Squadron network operations technician, was deployed to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and spoke to the merit of seeing the value of yourself and others.
“Our mission was to help assist the Afghanistan refugees assimilate into the U.S. — we also provide humanitarian aid,” said Thao. “To keep my spirits up, I try to explore and experience new things with the people and teams here — sparking conversations about backgrounds, goals and history makes this whole experience worth it.”
Additionally, Thao maintains emotional resilience with physical resilience, going to the gym nearly every day.
“I think physical, spiritual and emotional resilience tie together,” said Thao. “On my days off I try to go have fun and relax. Go out do something you’ve never seen, eaten, or done before! It’ll break your own rut that you’re currently in.”
Echoing Trujillo, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kaylah Williams, P-S GAR Chapel religious affairs journeyman stressed having trustworthy, nonjudgmental people in your life as paramount.
“It’s so important to have people who allow you to let your guard down and spill how you’re truly feeling,” said Williams. “Create a family within your area to enjoy the holidays with. I recommend a holiday gathering with other Airmen and Guardians from various units to create a family away from home.”
The holiday season often rewards Airmen and Guardians with less responsibilities and an increase in down time, which so many look forward to. However, for some, that time can conjure up doubts, loneliness and negative thoughts. Maintaining some structure and a sense of purpose during the holidays is important. Doing things that are intentionally good — for yourself and for others — can help maintain strength and resilience going into the new year. “It doesn’t have to be big things, it can be little things, like candy canes and notes,” said Ditson.