Mentorship, a story like no other

  • Published
  • By David R. Hopper
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
The lights were dim and the atmosphere was relaxed at the Patriot Club on Dec. 16 as four Airmen shared their personal story in the inaugural story telling mentoring event called 'The Long and Short of it.'

This was Offutt's first story tellers event and the subjects included seeking mental health assistance and the effects it has on the Air Force career, the life impact of special duties, overcoming depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the effects it has on the family.

The event began by tackling a major concern service members have regarding the fallacy of seeking mental health assistance and the effects it will have on a service member's career.

With her voice trembling, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Galicia Castillo, 55th Wing command post, shared her story about how her marital problems led to anxiety and depression and how those negative emotions began overshadowing her relationship with her spouse, her children and even her Air Force career. Like many other service members, Castillo didn't want to go to mental health for fear of what others would think and how it might impact her clearance and her career.

"I would tell myself, 'You don't need help, you're a noncommissioned officer in the United States Air Force, you can do this!' but not even then could I pull myself out," said Castillo. "After speaking with my supervisor, I finally made the decision to go to mental health."

"My counselor gave me the tools I needed to cope with my anxiety and feelings of sadness," Castillo added. "Once I was able to apply those skills, I found myself feeling a little bit better every day. Granted, it wasn't a quick fix and I didn't get better overnight but I still feel better now."

Castillo went on to explain that the counseling did not affect her clearance and she didn't have to provide details on the counseling during her clearance reinvestigation and that she still holds her clearance.

Castillo concluded by adding, "I went to mental health and I continue to serve."

The final subject of the event and one that affects many service members and their families is the silent war of PTSD. Master Sgt. John Walker, 55th Wing Chapel, and his wife described the terrifying events their family endured due to PTSD.

"He awoke many times during the night," said Amy Walker. "Sometimes yelling out, sometimes gasping for breath and sometimes grabbing me as if I were either in danger or the one he was about to attack."

Just like with Castillo's depression and anxiety, service members will use a plethora of reasons for not seeking assistance with PTSD, not the least of these is the fear they will lose their ability to serve their country.

"They want to serve and protect without saying, 'I came back damaged from doing my duty,'" said Amy.

After many scary nights, Amy confronted John about the PTSD and seeking assistance especially since his next deployment was coming up and it involved him carrying a weapon at all times.

"If you don't seek treatment, you could hurt me, yourself, another service member, or our newborn baby," Amy said. "Your career isn't more important than that."

John agreed and began seeking treatment.

"I am so thankful that he sought out the treatment putting our family and his mental health first," Amy said. "PTSD is real and if you or your loved one has even one symptom please put your career and pride aside to save yourself and your family."

We send our loved ones off to war and more often than not they come back changed, Amy added.  We must stand beside them and be strong for them and make sure for everyone's sake they get healthy and strong to be those service members we sent off to war in the first place.

Story telling mentorship events will be taking place every other month and all of Team Offutt is invited to attend. The next event called "Leadership Gold" presents three lessons from John Maxwell's Leadership Gold Seminar and is scheduled for Jan. 26, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the AFWA auditorium.