CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Members of the 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron participated in the kick-off event for their new mental health resiliency program, Individuals Caring Attitude Resiliency and Empowerment, at Cannon Air Force Base, Dec. 6, 2019.
The ICARE program was started in response to Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright’s initiative to prioritize mental health across the Air Force. The event Friday allowed volunteers to take a proactive approach on how to handle mental health issues for their wingmen and themselves.
“Chief Wright has said that we need to pause and talk about the issues our Force is currently facing,” said Tech. Sgt. Sanita Sanders, 27 SOLRS client systems supervisor. “I just felt that after one day, we go back to reality. So why not keep it going, why not talk about things that make people uncomfortable?”
The current plan for the organization is to meet on a monthly basis, or as often as others wish to talk about mental and emotional wellbeing.
“I wanted to tackle it from a new standpoint,” Sanders said. “We need to focus on fixing things before issues arise. There are people that might have experience they can share with an Airman that might not speak up. We want people to want to be here.”
27 SOLRS leadership tasked the ICARE team, prior to its creation, with creating a program that allows squadron members to take an active role in learning about mental health.
“I think volunteering really shows the people that want to help,” said Staff Sgt. Anyssa Jackson, 27 SOLRS fuels technician and participant in the ICARE event. “Mandatory days get the word out there to people that might not be aware, but having an open forum can really bring out the best in people.”
After a briefing on communication from the commander, participants were split into teams to partake in multiple activities. Personality profiling and team building were two of the events put on with the help of members of the Airman and Family Readiness Center. There was also an ICARE briefing to teach attendants about the ICARE mission and how to share their own experiences.
“It was an amazing time,” Jackson said. “The stories people shared moved me to tears. When I started crying, everyone made sure I was okay, even later in the day. You could feel the passion in the room.”
For now, Cannon’s sole ICARE program is located at the 27 SOLRS. Other squadrons can follow their lead and start their own initiative, however.
“ICARE doesn’t just have to be in my squadron,” Sanders said. “In today’s Air Force, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of work, we forget we’re human. We need to take care of each other. ICARE can happen not just in other squadrons, but in the whole Air Force.”