Kunsan hopes reminder cards will battle holiday depression
November 12, 2006
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — In hopes of fending off the loneliness or depression that sometimes can take hold amid the holiday season, Kunsan Air Base officials have designed and begun distributing a small card giving airmen a few quick reminders about keeping emotionally and mentally healthy.
It also gives them hotline phone numbers to call if depression, thoughts of suicide, or other distress befalls them.
Wing officials have said they see the cards as especially useful at their fighter base, which is known as an austere, remote duty station where most airmen serve one-year tours unaccompanied by family members.
“Here at Kunsan especially, you think family gatherings and family time together or attending worship together as a family … that isn’t an option for you,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Cannon, 8th Fighter Wing chaplain.
Which, said Cannon, is why “it’s very important for you to know how to get in touch with others and how to make connections. By having these cards, we can help each other out.”
Along with telephone numbers and names of helping agencies, the cards also offer some useful guidance, said Tech. Sgt. Christine Williams, sergeant in charge of the 8th Medical Squadron’s life-skills element.
“On the back of the card we decided we’re going to put some information to encourage people to take care of themselves,” said Williams.
The guidance covers four aspects of “wellness,” she said: physical, social, emotional and spiritual.
Under social wellness, for example, “we’re encouraging them to stay connected to friends and family,” said Williams. “We’re also encouraging them to mentor others.”
Emotional wellness covers “learning to manage their stress. Relaxation. Setting goals to better themselves. Meaningful activities, that type of thing,” she said.
The wing will increase its distribution of the cards as the holiday season nears, said Capt. Stephanie Allison, chief of the 8th Medical Squadron’s life-skills element. Plans also call for producing the same content in the form of flyers, magnets, posters, and for running it in the base paper.
“Everyone is the intended audience,” said Allison. “The idea is that everyone should be able to help everyone.”