NEWS | Aug. 13, 2021

Tough conversation: ‘The Things We Carry’ resiliency campaign

By 2nd Lt. Katelin Robinson 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Brig. Gen. Caroline Miller, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Luke Lucas, 502nd Civil Engineer Group Senior Enlisted Leader, sat down with 10 members from the wing for their “Tough Conversation” series on the topic of “The Things We Carry” resiliency video campaign Aug. 10 at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

The icebreaker started with around the room introductions and Miller opened the discussion by asking “Has anyone had a chance to review one of the campaign videos or have you heard about this campaign?”

“I actually have seen the videos and find them very inspiring,” one member responded. “Serving as a Defender and single parent I started to get in trouble early on in my career. I lost rank and it was a dark and depressing time.

“My supervisor did not seem that concerned about me but a friend of mine approached me one day and asked the tough question, the member added. “I went to inpatient care and my commander asked if I needed to get out of the military or PCS to get a fresh start.” 

She discussed how she PCS’d, continued to get the help she needed, got her stripe back and did not feel any negative impacts moving forward in her career.

“Have you seen a shift in leadership now?” Miller then asked.

One individual said that he sees some of the things still happening in leadership but that the individuals coming into the military now are more vocal about their needs and mental health.

“A culture shift still needs to happen to prevent stigma in seeking helping services,” he added. Miller echoed his sentiment, “It is up to us in leadership positions to say it’s okay to get help.”

Another member provided an example of his personal struggle.

“It is hard to reach out for help when you’re the one who is supposed to have it all together,” he said. “I wasn’t sleeping well, it was wearing me down and I knew I needed to get help. I went to the VA and they have been great.”

Teleworking has also caused a strain on leadership’s ability to check in and have that touchpoint with their personnel to identify when something is amiss.

“Whether you are brand new to the military or supervising, leading in these times is challenging. Supervising is not a teleworking task and you need to be there to teach them,” Lucas noted.

“It is incumbent on us to reach out and ensure everyone is doing okay,” Miller added.

Lucas shared his story of resilience after returning from a deployment in 2011.

“I was pretty broken and needed to see someone. I tried Military OneSource but had trouble finding a provider that I was compatible with,” he said. “Eventually, I found a provider in mental health who helped me tremendously.

“All of this is to say, there’s a lot of resources out there, if you’re trying to find help and hitting a wall, don’t give up,” Lucas added.

Examples of stories the campaign may highlight are dealing with loss, financial difficulties, domestic violence, divorce, deployments, substance abuse or dependency, professional struggles, suicide, and sexual assault survivors, to name a few.

This is a chance for members to share their experiences and how they have persevered. If you would like to share your story, email jbsapublicaffairs@gmail.com subject line //TTWC//. You can check out the videos online at: https://www.jbsa.mil/Resources/Resiliency/The-Things-We-Carry/.