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10th Air Force highlights importance of mental health awareness and urges use of 988 Lifeline

  • Published
  • By Chris Wilson 10th Air Force Public Affairs
  • 10th Air Force

In a concerted effort to enhance mental health awareness and suicide prevention within its ranks, the 10th Air Force is emphasizing the critical importance of vigilance among Airmen, Guardians, and their families.

With an acute focus on the observability of suicide warning signs, the command is advocating for increased communication and the utilization of available support systems, notably the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. While February is recognized as Suicide Prevention Month, the command emphasized taking care of Airmen and each other is a continuous commitment throughout the year.

Suicide warning signs often manifest uniquely in individuals, with changes in behavior, mood, and demeanor being prominent indicators.

"Observing a loved one or colleague exhibiting signs of distress, such as talking about wanting to die, showing feelings of hopelessness, or withdrawing from social interactions, necessitates immediate and compassionate intervention," said Maj. Gen. Regina A. Sabric, Commander, 10th Air Force. "It's imperative to ask and understand the reasons behind these changes. Our community's strength lies in our unity and our unwavering commitment to support each other."

In recent months, the 10th Air Force has observed a slight increase in reports of suicide ideations among its personnel. Despite these concerning trends, Airmen are taking proactive steps by reaching out for help, demonstrating a growing awareness and acceptance of the importance of mental health.

"We've noticed an increase in our Airmen coming forward to express their struggles. It’s encouraging to see them taking this brave and vulnerable step and seek help," said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher S. Bluto, Jr., Command Chief, 10th Air Force. "I'm thankful that our leadership and support systems are responsive and effective in providing the necessary assistance and resources. It’s crucial that we continue to create an environment where seeking help is seen not just as acceptable but as commendable. We value every Airman, and the Command values those who support each other through their struggles, as evidenced by their Wingman Saves program through A1Z."

The military lifestyle, characterized by frequent moves, deployments, and family separations, presents unique challenges that may exacerbate stress and emotional strain. Despite these pressures, the resilience and adaptability of Airmen, Guardians, and their families are notable.

"Our Carnivore Airmen are resilient and excel in overcoming obstacles, but their dedication to serve can sometimes overshadow the necessity of self-care," said Bluto. "Seeking help is a sign of strength. The 988 Lifeline and our many support networks are pivotal resources that are readily available for our service members and their families, I urge all of our Airmen to utilize them."

The 10th Air Force is actively promoting the use of Military One Source and the Family Advocacy office, among other support programs available at installations, to address potential suicide risk factors. These factors include relationship or family issues, legal or financial problems, medical concerns, sleep disturbances, and workplace challenges. An extensive range of tools and guidance is accessible through the Air Force’s Resiliency website, aiming to empower individuals to navigate crisis situations effectively.

Air Force Integrated Resilience offers assistance online through their website. This resource is designed to enhance the ability of Airmen, Guardians, partners, spouses, and family members to recognize warning signs, foster protective environments, and utilize the myriad of resources, offices, and programs dedicated to providing assistance.

The leadership of the 10th Air Force is committed to fostering an environment where mental health is prioritized, and support is readily accessible, said Sabric. By encouraging open dialogue, promoting awareness of warning signs, and facilitating the use of the 988 Lifeline, the command aims to safeguard the well-being of its personnel and their families, ensuring they have the support needed to face and overcome the unique challenges of military life.