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A message from the 176th Wing director of psychological health

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska --

Dear 176th Wing Community,

During this time of COVID-19, I write to you not only as the Wing Director of Psychological Health, but an Alaskan, a mother of children in the Anchorage School District, the spouse of a husband in a higher risk category, and an active community member.  We have not experienced a pandemic like COVID-19 in our lifetime.  There is nothing about this time that is easy.  Because we have lost our ability to control the situation, it’s normal to feel a sense of fear or anxiety for ourselves or our loved ones.

These feelings and a loss of usual routines can, in turn, trigger and/or increase symptoms of anxiety, depression, sleep problems, tobacco and/or alcohol use, eating habits, and relationship problems.  The best ways to navigate these problems are adhering to the advice and guidelines of reliable health sources to minimize you and your families exposure to COVID-19, practicing self-care (mental, physical, spiritual, social—although very tough during the “social distancing” times, so get creative), managing/adjusting routines to the new normal, and  increasing your self-awareness should additional assistance be warranted for you and/or your family members.

That being said, my overarching message to you is to “ride the wave” of this crisis.  Please give everyone—especially your leadership—grace.  Everyone wants more up-to-date information than is often available, and few if any in our nation have ever faced this level of event.  Rather than criticize, now is the time for us all to come together and show our best selves.   When we feel powerless about this mounting pandemic, realize we actually do have the power to change our mindset to include what we can do despite all the restrictions, increase our coping mechanisms, and maintain personal and family resilience.  And, I promise to practice what I preach as I navigate these new waters with you. 

To help you make that transition, you have a team at the 176th Wing that is available to assist you through these challenging times.  Do not hesitate to contact us.

Diann Richardson, LCSW--Wing Director of Psychological Health (DPH), The DPH is available to assist by phone during duty hours and will be primarily teleworking until restrictions are lifted. 

Office phone--(907) 551-0283 (will be routinely checking messages), or email--diann.richardson.1@us.af.mil.

Chaplain, Maj Benjamin McEntire, Acting Wing Chaplain—Available for counseling, support, guidance, and referral to all service members and their families on any issue, regardless of faith or status. 100% confidentiality—NO exceptions. (Chaplain McEntire is slated to assist with the state response, so his availability for in-person counseling is expected to constantly change as the situation progresses.)

Duty Phone: 907-229-0010; E-mail: Benjamin.mcentire.1@us.af.mil

Active duty chaplains are also available at the JROC, Building 4984, Zuckert Ave. (behind the hospital)

Phone: 907-552-5762

An active duty chaplain is also available 24/7 by calling the base command post: 907-552-3000

National Mental Health Resources specific to COVID-19:

CDC Information regarding stress and anxiety—

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

 

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress—This page contains fact sheets and other resources to support the health and well-being of communities impacted by COVID-19.  MANY resources for individuals, leaders, and parents—

https://www.cstsonline.org/resources/resource-master-list/coronavirus-and-emerging-infectious-disease-outbreaks-response

As a reminder, other counseling services are also available 24/7 (https://www.militaryonesource.mil/) via Military OneSource by calling 1-800-342-9647.  Please continue to address all emergency situations by calling 911 or going to the nearest hospital Emergency Room.  The 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. 

Thank you for your time.