JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas --
Holidays are a time for traveling and preparing to spend time with families. This can be an exciting time, especially since COVID-19 has been keeping families apart, but for some, this is can be a really hard time to cope with since many may not be surrounded by loved ones.
The Air Force Wounded Warrior, or AFW2, Program strives to help warriors, caregivers, and their families recover, adapt and have hope and persistence to keep them moving forward when they are facing challenges. It is very difficult to overcome life’s hardships during such a busy time of year, but remaining resilient is essential to maintaining strong mental health.
“Holidays are usually a time for family and friends, but for those who don’t have a strong support system, it can remind them of how lonely they are,” said Candace Escobedo, AFW2 Resiliency Program Manager.
There are many activities that can help those who may struggle, keeping them involved and keeping their minds busy. You can volunteer at a local shelter or church or get together with family and friends to watch movies or play games. Caroling in the neighborhood or baking items for neighbors or coworkers can also give a sense of connection that may be missing. These are just a few ideas that may help during the holiday season.
It is also pertinent to remember what is important during the holiday season. It's not about who gives the best gift or who cooks the best food and hosts the best party. These are all unnecessary stressors. The holiday season is about reminiscing, looking back at the year and taking time to relax from work to connect with loved ones.
“Manage your expectations of what your holidays should look like and put things into perspective that not everything needs to be perfect,” Candace said. “Be flexible and expect the unexpected so that if something does change, or doesn’t go as planned, you don’t feel let down.”
While ensuring you don’t get stressed in the hustle and bustle of everything, make sure you are aware of your family and friends who have a hard time with the holidays, gatherings and activities.
“It’s important to understand your loved ones' triggers and try to minimize those things. Instead of forcing them to participate in all of the activities, give them space and support when they are feeling overwhelmed,” Candace said.
AFW2 strives to always provide the best resources and support to wounded, ill or injured Airmen and Guardians, Veterans and their families. For more information on the AFW2 program, resources, or to refer an Airman or Guardian, visit www.woundedwarrior.af.mil.