Week in Photos, Sept. 7, 2012

 

By Senior Airman Grovert Fuentes-Contreras

Air Force Public Affairs Agency

 

Hey everyone! We hope you have a safe and fantastic weekend. Before you do that, tell us which photo is your favorite one and why!

 

Fly, Fight, Win!

 

Photo: Senior Airman Andrew Leal, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron, fuels technician, shuts off the valve of a fuel truck during a major accident response exercise Aug. 30, 2012, at RAF Mildenhall. The MARE simulated a fuel spill due to a cracked flange connection during a fuel transfer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

 

Diversity makes a stronger Air Force, Sept. 7, 2012

Diversity strengthens military

By Col. Rodney Bryan
927th Mission Support Group commander

The Air Force defines diversity as a composite of individual characteristics, experiences, and abilities, consistent with the core values and mission. Diversity includes, but is not limited to, personal experiences, geographic background, socioeconomic background, cultural knowledge, educational background, work background, language abilities, physical abilities, philosophical or spiritual perspectives, age, race, ethnicity and gender.

One of the strengths of our nation and the Air Force is this diversity, which includes and involves all of us. In Executive Order 13583, President Obama stated, “Our nation derives strength from the diversity of its population and from its commitment to equal opportunity for all. We are at our best when we draw on the talents of all parts of our society, and our greatest accomplishments are achieved when diverse perspectives are brought to bear to overcome our greatest challenges.”

As commander of a mission support group, I fully appreciate the importance of diversity. The nature of the various activities and operations directed and controlled by mission support groups worldwide make them the most diverse group within Air Force wings. Functions typically include personnel, logistics planning and readiness, civil engineering, security forces, communications and services. These disciplines are brought together under the mission support group to provide complete and responsive support to installations and the Air Force mission.

Diversity is vital to the successful accomplishment of the Air Force mission. The Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley stated, “Across the service, we represent a broad range of diverse missions, family situations, ethnicities, faiths, races and educational backgrounds. Yet together, this rich tapestry forms the world’s finest Air Force, drawn from the best talent that America has to offer.”

The Air Force must attract, recruit, develop, mentor, and retain the best possible talent to stay effective. Embracing each Airman’s strengths, perspective, and capabilities will help build and sustain a diverse culture that strengthens our service. To gain the most from diversity, Airmen must understand they are valued and have the opportunity to reach their full potential while contributing to the Air Force mission.

Air Force capabilities and war-fighting skills are enhanced by diversity among its personnel. Diversity provides the total force a collection of strengths, perspectives and capabilities that transcend individual contributions. Personnel who work in diverse environments learn to make the most of and combine individual strengths, abilities and perspectives for the good of the mission.

Lastly, diversity is a leadership issue. We who are leaders must be committed to building an Air Force reflects the best of our nation. In addition, we must create an environment that promotes mutual respect and trust while promoting the development and mentorship of Airmen with different backgrounds and perspectives. The message must be effectively communicated that diversity is integral to Air Force core values and enhances mission readiness.

Photo: The strength of the military is improved by the diverse backgrounds of those who make up the organization, a senior National Guard officer said May 3, 2010.

Week in Photos, Aug. 31, 2012

Week in Photos graphic

By Airman 1st Class Krystal Tomlin
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

As you enjoy this Week in Photos and the holiday weekend, remember you’re critical to the mission, so stay safe.

Whether you provide your serivice in uniform or as a family member it is absolutely invaluable. If you’re a citizen providing support to our troops, we couldn’t do it without you. As Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command, said, “The nations military is only a strong as the support is recieves from its citizens.”

Happy Labor Day, everybody!

Photo: U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team performs at a U.S. Air Force Band concert at the Air Force Memorial in Washington D.C., Aug. 24, 2012. Throughout the summer months of June, July, and August, the band’s performing ensembles present free outdoor concerts at historic venues in our nation’s capital for Washington area residents, as well as for visitors from around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christina Brownlow)

Attacking Symptoms, Aug. 30, 2012

 

Pencil illustration attempting to visualize PTSD

By Capt. Scott Taylor
Air Force Legal Operations Agency

“I started to get really depressed and lacked the desire to do anything but sit around and play online to ‘escape’ the real world,” he said. “I was having dreams of planes crashing, the smell of burnt flesh and rotting bodies. I still tried to push through this even as my sleep started to dwindle down to a couple hours a night as I would wake up in cold sweats screaming. I decided something was wrong.”

These were some of the symptoms Staff Sgt. Collin Moore, a former air transportation craftsman, was experiencing shortly after he made a permanent change of station to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

“I would watch a commercial and start crying, then laugh, then get [upset] and then become enraged,” Moore said. “I went to the mental health clinic on base to get some advice. After a couple of sessions my counselor introduced the notion that I may be suffering from PTSD.”

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It can be triggered by exposure to a traumatic experience such as an interpersonal event like physical or sexual assault, exposure to disaster or accidents, combat or witnessing a traumatic incident.

The diagnosis did not sit well with Moore. He said he felt he had no reason to be experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Although he had deployed seven times in eight years, he still thought that only military who had been on the front lines or sweeping the streets of Iraq or Afghanistan would experience stress and trauma. For him this didn’t make sense.

“I had never considered myself a weak-minded person,” Moore said. “I accomplished everything I put my mind to, and to me, something like this could not be possible. Boy, was I ever wrong. I started to go to mental health two times a week to try and work it out and started a healthy dose of medication, however this did not work for me.”

There are many treatments for PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD, but at this time there are two types of treatments that appear to be the most effective, medicines and cognitive-behavioral therapy counseling. Different treatment options are often tried to see what will work most effectively for the individual.

Shortly after Moore’s diagnosis he rapidly got worse and his weight ballooned to 260 pounds. His desire to do anything began to dwindle. His marriage began to fall apart. The breaking point came one night when he and his wife were arguing and he wondered what the point of living was.

“After a few venomous words were spit out by both parties I went to the closet and grabbed a friend’s .45-caliber handgun, loaded one in the chamber and had my finger on a hair trigger ready to be done with all the pain,” Moore said. “I stood there shaking while my wife was crying and at that point I realized this could not be me.”

Moore was sent to University Behavioral Health in Texas for 30 days, but it took time before he realized the cause of his PTSD and how to cope with it.

“The problem was that I still did not understand why I was counting windows in buildings, freaking out in the car as a passenger and still scared to death as the driver,” Moore said. “I hated doors behind me and large crowds. I would go from what to me seemed calm, to total rage in the blink of an eye.”

While Moore was undergoing care, he went to group and individual counseling sessions where he learned that having PTSD is not a weakness, but instead a natural defense mechanism that everyone has. Unfortunately, those who suffer from PTSD cannot turn off that defense mechanism.

“Simply put, PTSD is a state of hyper-vigilance and anxiety all mixed into one,” said Moore. “There is no ‘easy-button’ for it, no magic pill to cure it or, honestly, any way to get rid of it.”

Treatment can help an individual who has PTSD feel more in control of emotions and result in fewer symptoms, according to the VA National Center for PTSD. But, even with treatment some symptoms may still be prevalent.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are generally grouped into three types: intrusive memories, avoidance and numbing, as well as increased anxiety or emotional arousal, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Intrusive memories may include flashbacks or upsetting dreams. Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing can include feeling emotionally numb, avoiding enjoyable activities, memory problems, trouble concentrating and difficulty maintaining close relationships. Some of the symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional arousal include irritability, anger, guilt, shame, trouble sleeping or self-destructive behavior.

Moore said that his mind still feels like it’s in a hostile environment, which creates a problem. Although there is no real danger, anyone who causes an uneasy feeling or added stress becomes the enemy.

“The way I see it, I have been given a toolbox and in it are different ways to cope with different situations,” Moore said. “While I am a disabled veteran, I know I will never be the person I once was, but I also feel that I could not have become the person I am now. I am down to 170 pounds, and I am working on my vocational rehabilitation to become an environmental engineer.”

The VA found that nearly 400,000 veterans across the nation, and in all branches of the military, were affected by PTSD in 2009 alone, ranking the disorder as the fourth most frequent disability connected with military service.

Psychological intervention is available in multiple venues, including medical options through primary care and mental health clinics. All VA medical centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics. There are non medical options as well, such as Military OneSource, chaplain’s office and military and family life consultants.

Early diagnosis, prompt treatment and strong social support can all increase the chance of a good outcome for those who have PTSD.

Photo: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This pencil illustration attempts to visualize PTSD. Those that suffer from this disorder are constantly trying to regain some sense of the normalcy they had before events that caused pieces of themselves to go missing. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Master Sgt. William Vance)

Week in Photos, Aug. 24, 2012

 

F-22 Raptors at Air Force WeekBy Airman 1st Class Krystal Tomlin
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Between Air Force Week and National Aviation Day this week has been all about celebrating aviation and the branch of service that revolves around innovations in air, space and cyber space. As you dive into this weekend and enjoy this Week in Photos, remember:

Integrity first

Service before self

Excellence in all we do.

Photo: U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors fighter aircraft from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. fly in formation behind a KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft from Altus Air Force Base, Okla., after an air refueling Aug. 21, 2012. The F-22s were refueled outside of New York in support of the Brooklyn Cyclone flyover during Air Force Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kenneth W. Norman)