Recent News Events Create Opportunity to Review Your Social Media Presence

SM-Friend-or-Foe-300x300Many of you may have seen news stories this past weekend of a list containing the names, addresses, and photos of 100 current U.S. service members.

The list was compiled with the respective addresses and photos based off of information obtained through social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

In light of these events it is highly recommended you review your current online footprint, particularly in regard to social media sites. Furthermore, have a conversation with your families about Operational Security (OPSEC) and how we all need to be careful about what we post online. There are real threats out there, and it is important that we do what we can do to mitigate our exposure.

Here some easy steps you can take to help ensure your security online:

  • Understand your privacy settings. Go look at the current privacy settings you have established on the social media sites you use and remember that the safest setting for any site is “only friends”. In our resource section below are smart cards for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
  • Don’t friend people you don’t know. It sounds simple but think about how many people you may be friends with online that you don’t really know. If you don’t know them, then why are you linked in with them?
  • Limit the use of applications. Applications can be a great help, but they can also be a liability. For example, a past study revealed that many of Facebook’s most popular applications were transmitting personal user information to outside servers.
  • Protect your location. It is important that you do not “check in” and let the world know where you are, particularly at home, your friends’ houses, or at work.
  • Don’t overshare. The internet doesn’t forget anything – and nothing really gets deleted – so be careful about what you share. It is much easier to just not share something than it is to get that information back once it has been broadcasted in cyberspace.

Resources:

As always, force protection is a primary concern. It is important that we all remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to base security forces, Air Force OSI, or the local police.

Promotion of Mental Health – National Prevention Week: Day 6

keep_talking_about_mental_healthPrevention, early intervention, and mental health promotion can help assure the health of young children and adolescents, then assist them throughout their life. There are several core concepts behind the science of prevention and promotion:

  • Mental, emotional, and behavioral health refers to the overall psychological well-being of individuals and includes the presence of positive characteristics, such as resiliency.
  • Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders means supporting the healthy development of young people starting at birth.
  • Mental and physical health compliment each other. Young people who grow up in good physical health are likely to also have good mental health, while having good mental health contributes to good physical health.
  • Successful prevention and promotion involves many different groups and is involved throughout a variety of settings including families, schools, neighborhoods, and communities.

From childhood through late adulthood, there are certain times when we may need help addressing problems and issues that cause us emotional distress or make us feel overwhelmed despite how healthy we may think we are.

Military life, especially the stress of deployments or mobilizations, can
present challenges to service members and their families that are both unique
and difficult. Some are manageable, some are not. Many times we can successfully deal with them on our own. In some instances matters get worse and one problem can trigger other more serious issues. When you are experiencing these types of difficulties, you may benefit from the assistance of an experienced, trained professional to check things out and see what is really happening.

535324_10150798966353437_660913436_9592816_663798851_nSeeking help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Prevention and early intervention is key. Don’t wait until the issues snowball into a major event that affects your work and home life as well as your relationships.

Services available to the Ellsworth AFB community:
Mental Health Clinic 385-3656 (Active Duty Only)
Base Chaplains 385-1598 (Chaplains offer 100% confidentiality)
Tricare: Family members do not need referral for first 8 visits with a network provider (Find a Network Provider)
Military OneSource non-medical counseling services are available to provide help with short-term issues to those who are eligible. They offer the following service options: Face-to-Face Counseling, Telephonic Counseling, International Calling Options, Online Counseling.
24/7 National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Airman & Family Readiness Center


Worried About Your Security Clearance?

The Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, used to ask the applicant to acknowledge mental health care in the past seven years. It does not ask for treatment details if the care involved only marital, family, or grief counseling, not related to violence by the applicant, unless the treatment was court-ordered.

Officials said surveys have shown that troops feel if they answer “yes” to the question, they could jeopardize their security clearances, required for many occupations in the military.

Since April 18, 2008 applicants have not had to acknowledge care under the same conditions, nor if the care was related to service in a military combat zone. The revised wording has been distributed to the services and will be attached to the cover of the questionnaire. The revised question will not show up printed on the forms until the department depletes its pre-printed stock. Read the announcement that appeared on the Official Air Force website.


Learn more by downloading the Fact Sheet on Promotion of Mental Health in the U.S. [pdf].

Other Resources:

Prevention of Suicide – National Prevention Week: Day 5

depressionOn average, one member of the Armed Forces dies by suicide every 25 hours (2013) and for veterans, suicide is the cause of death of an estimated 22 veterans each day. In the United States, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death.

The loss of someone to suicide resonates among family, friends, coworkers, and others in the community. It has been estimated that for each person who commits suicide, 5 to 10 other people are severely affected by the loss. Family and friends may experience a range of painful emotions, such as shock, anger, guilt, and depression. Suicide can occur across demographics, but certain groups are more at risk than the general population. Risk factors for suicide include mental illness, substance abuse, family history of suicide, and previous suicide attempts. Additional risk factors for some people may include a highly stressful life event or prolonged stress from problems like unemployment, serious relationship conflict, or bullying.

Suicide is devastating, but there are resources and information available to help prevent it.

Learn more to be the one who makes a difference.

Other Resources:

  • SuicidehotlineThe National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – A website that provides a downloadable wallet card with the Lifeline phone number and suicide warning signs in English and Spanish, as well as other materials for coping and caring for loved ones. The toll-free Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK [8255]) offers confidential help 24 hours a day to individuals considering suicide and their friends and family.
  • StopBullying.gov – A website that provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how to prevent and respond to bullying.
  • SAMHSA’s Mental Health Services Locator – A resource to help people find mental health services and resources in their communities.
  • National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention – A public-private collaboration SAMHSA has developed to help promote suicide prevention.
  • The Trevor Project – An organization that promotes acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning teens and helps to prevent suicide among those youth. The Trevor Helpline, which can be reached at 1-866-488-7386, is a 24-hour toll-free suicide helpline for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning youth.
  • The Suicide Prevention Resource Center – A resource that provides access to the science and experience that can support efforts to develop programs, implement interventions, and promote policies to prevent suicide. Resources include information on school-based prevention programs, a best practices registry, state information and more.

Whose Your Wingman? Who Are You a Wingman For?

Miami Dolphins scandal has lessons for Service members

Commentary by Col. Quinn Gummel
9th Reconnaissance Wing vice commander
Source: http://www.acc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123370761

11/14/2013 – BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Last week, Jonathan Martin, an offensive lineman on the Miami Dolphins football team, walked out and quit the team due to a perceived hostile work environment, allegedly characterized by demeaning, racially-biased communications and financial extortion by at least one team captain, and other senior members of the team. Though a lot of details are yet unknown, the events thus far are sufficient to provide a lesson for our own military community.

Like a professional sports team, our Air Force is comprised of motivated people, held to a high threshold of performance, where teamwork is essential to success. How does a professional athlete, who has passed so many hurdles, and is presumably fulfilling a dream to participate at the height of his profession suddenly up and quit? We might ask ourselves what would drive a dedicated and professionally fulfilled Airman, proudly serving our nation, to become similarly disenchanted.

Let’s start at the top. Like a Head Coach or General Manager, commanders…

Click here to read the rest of Col. Gummel’s Commentary

A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope

As we all come to terms with the events of last Friday, our thoughts are with the community of Newton, Connecticut and the families of Sandy Hook Elementary. The national spotlight is on them as they grieve.

Meanwhile, we begin our week as we are expected to: while re-examining our lives, reviewing local policies and procedures we still have to return to our daily routines, many of us sending kids out the door to school for the day. To quote a parent of a Columbine Shooting victim, “The definition of normal changed that day.”

Whether it is 1999 or 2012 we are all now living in a new normal and continuing to build (and rebuild) our personal, family and community resilience. Everyone copes and grieves differently, but children often need more assistance. Below are some tips for parents and teachers from the National Association of School Psychologists in helping children cope.

Whenever a national tragedy occurs, such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters, children, like many people, may be confused or frightened.  Most likely they will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react.  Parents and school personnel can help children cope first and foremost by establishing a sense of safety and security. As more information becomes available, adults can continue to help children work through their emotions and perhaps even use the process as a learning experience.

All Adults Should:

  1. Model calm and control.  Children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives. Avoid appearing anxious or frightened.
  2. Reassure children that they are safe and (if true) so are the other important adults in their lives. Depending on the situation, point out factors that help insure their immediate safety and that of their community.
  3. Remind them that trustworthy people are in charge.  Explain that the government emergency workers, police, firefighters, doctors, and the military are helping people who are hurt and are working to ensure that no further tragedies occur.
  4. Let children know that it is okay to feel upset.  Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy like this occurs.  Let children talk about their feelings and help put them into perspective.  Even anger is okay, but children may need help and patience from adults to assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
  5. Observe children’s emotional state.  Depending on their age, children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of grief, anxiety or discomfort.  Children will express their emotions differently. There is no right or wrong way to feel or express grief.
  6. Look for children at greater risk.  Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others.  Be particularly observant for those who may be at risk of suicide.  Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
  7. Tell children the truth. Don’t try to pretend the event has not occurred or that it is not serious.  Children are smart.  They will be more worried if they think you are too afraid to tell them what is happening.
  8. Stick to the facts.  Don’t embellish or speculate about what has happened and what might happen. Don’t dwell on the scale or scope of the tragedy, particularly with young children.
  9. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriateEarly elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that the daily structures of their lives will not change. Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school.  They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence and threats to safety in schools and society.  They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. They will be more committed to doing something to help the victims and affected community.  For all children, encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Be a good listener!
  10. Monitor your own stress level.  Don’t ignore your own feelings of anxiety, grief, and anger. Talking to friends, family members, religious leaders, and mental health counselors can help. It is okay to let your children know that you are sad, but that you believe things will get better. You will be better able to support your children if you can express your own emotions in a productive manner.  Get appropriate sleep, nutrition, and exercise.

What Parents Can Do:

  1. Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy.  Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
  2. Make time to talk with your children.  Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will.  Take some time and determine what you wish to say.
  3. Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction.  Many children will want actual physical contact.  Give plenty of hugs.  Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe.
  4. Limit your child’s television viewing of these events.  If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off.  Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
  5. Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible.  Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
  6. Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed.  These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in.  Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
  7. Safeguard your children’s physical health.  Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults.  Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
  8. Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families.  It may be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.
  9. Find out what resources your school has in place to help children cope.  Most schools are likely to be open and often are a good place for children to regain a sense of normalcy.  Being with their friends and teachers can help.  Schools should also have a plan for making counseling available to children and adults who need it.

What Schools Can Do:

  1. Assure children that they are safe and that schools are well prepared to take care of all children at all times.
  2. Maintain structure and stability within the schools.  It would be best, however, not to have tests or major projects within the next few days.
  3. Have a plan for the first few days back at school.  Include school psychologists, counselors, and crisis team members in planning the school’s response.
  4. Provide teachers and parents with information about what to say and do for children in school and at home.
  5. Have teachers provide information directly to their students, not during the public address announcements.
  6. Have school psychologists and counselors available to talk to students and staff who may need or want extra support.
  7. Be aware of students who may have recently experienced a personal tragedy or a have personal connection to victims or their families.  Even a child who has merely visited the affected area or community may have a strong reaction. Provide these students extra support and leniency if necessary.
  8. Know what community resources are available for children who may need extra counseling. School psychologists can be very helpful in directing families to the right community resources.
  9. Allow time for age appropriate classroom discussion and activities. Do not expect teachers to provide all of the answers.  They should ask questions and guide the discussion, but not dominate it.  Other activities can include art and writing projects, play acting, and physical games.
  10. Be careful not to stereotype people or countries that might be associated with the tragedy. Children can easily generalize negative statements and develop prejudice. Talk about tolerance and justice versus vengeance. Stop any bullying or teasing of students immediately.
  11. Refer children who exhibit extreme anxiety, fear or anger to mental health counselors in the school. Inform their parents.
  12. Provide an outlet for students’ desire to help.  Consider making get well cards or sending letters to the families and survivors of the tragedy, or writing thank you letters to doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals as well as emergency rescue workers, firefighters and police.
  13. Monitor or restrict viewing scenes of the event as well as the aftermath.

For information on helping children and youth with this crisis, contact NASP at (301) 657-0270 or visit NASP’s website at www.nasponline.org

Modified from material posted on the NASP website in September 2001.

© 2002, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814, (301) 657-0270, Fax (301) 657-0275; www.nasponline.org

“Music is the Soundtrack of your Life”

Have you ever been listening to the radio and heard a song that took you back in time? All of a sudden, you remember what you were doing, how you were feeling, and who you were with.

It’s a common experience for many people. Often just listening to a song can take many of us back to old sensations, excitements, fears and hopes.

With the passing of Dick Clark this week, many people are experiencing a flood of emotions. Some of those emotions are feelings of grief and loss, but others may be emotions and memories from their lives based on the music that Dick Clark was associated with. In fact, it was Dick Clark that is quoted as saying, “Music is the soundtrack of your life.”

For me, I have always found music a great way to entertain myself as well as a way to destress and relax. If you looked at the music on my iPod you would find everything from classical, country, rock, pop, and even old school rap. There are many songs that bring back memories for me, but there are a few that I could just name and remember all the details of a memory tied to it. Examples would be Restless Heart’s song Bluest Eyes in Texas reminds me not only of my first exposure to country music, but sitting in my dorm room at tech school with my roommate playing this song over and over. Def Leppard’s song Photograph puts me on the black diamond ski slopes in Winter Park, Colorado, skiing the moguls in the winter of 1985 with my Sony Walkman and a cassette of mixed music I made just for downhill skiing. The song right after it was She’s a Beauty by The Tubes and it not only puts me on the slopes, but also reminds me of when I met an old girlfriend, Kristin.

Kristin passed away in 1986, so that song, as well as Andrew Gold’s Thank You For Being Friend and Dionne Warwick & Friend’s That’s What Friends Are For, which were both played at her memorial service, bring up strong emotions for me.

There have been many links showing memories are tied to our senses. In fact, musical chronologies have been shown to be an effective therapy tool. A musical chronology is like a musical scrapbook. The chronology uses meaningful music to help clients connect with feelings, thoughts and memories, identify relevant life experiences and bring perspective to these experiences.

A goal of the chronology is to help clients appreciate the good they have experienced, while also coming to terms with experiences or situations they have left unreconciled. The hope is that by remembering the good, clients can give context to their experiences, and by coming face-to-face with difficult hurts while accessing a more realistic and compassionate lens, they will be better able to put those hurts to rest.

Catherine Somody conducted a study with participants ranging in age from 74 to 88 addressing Meaning and Connections in Older Populations using a musical chronology.

“The power of music and the chronology to evoke emotion was expressed by all participants,” Somody noted when discussing her research. “All reported increased self-awareness and reconnection with many important memories and values.” She went on to add, “The recall of happy memories added to the enjoyment of the process. Recall of hardships contributed to feelings of pride and accomplishment. Some participants connected with feelings of regret.” And consistent with the chronology mission, “Many connected with the experience of forgiveness and ’opened the door to hope.’”

Music can talk about our individual world and communicates our unique mix of cultural and personal experiences. While we may identify with important music from a particular genre, many of us also connect deeply with music from different generations and cultures.

So what is your music chronology or the soundtrack of your life? What are some of the songs that will illustrate your personal story or “life themes.” As we grow older, new genres, artists, and musical trends will be added to each of our chronologies. You might be surprised several years from now what songs will transport you back to the events in your life.

In the meantime, explore where you have been and become more self-aware of those events that have shaped who you are today. Learn from the hard memories while enjoying the happy ones.