What 9-11 taught us about service

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Think back to how you felt after 9/11. Even if you did not have any personal impact, or had known someone personally affected, you probably had some sort of reaction based on your exposure to the events and your own patriotism. Times like that tend to motivate us into action -- we feel better if we are doing something to help. But over time it's easy to get complacent.

Unless you were personally affected, life goes back to 'normal.' Sure, we have the minor inconveniences of longer airport lines or higher prices at the gas pumps, but generally speaking, we press on. Until there is a new incident. Fortunately there are ways to improve our preparedness and make a difference at the same time.

It was impossible to ignore the massive need for crisis intervention following 9/11. We became acutely aware of the importance of having a well-trained and ready force to respond on different levels. The challenge put to us by President (George W.) Bush following the terrorist attacks was to make "a commitment to service in our own communities." Volunteer. Serve the country. Donate resources.

But how are we living this charge today? Many of us wear the uniform or work government jobs. But does that offer any more than we were doing on Sept. 10th? I can almost hear the collective response about longer work hours, more deployments, picking up the slack in a 'right-sized' military, sacrificing family time, etc. And while these are valid arguments, the heart of the matter remains. Sometimes we are called to serve beyond what our jobs require of us.

So if you're looking for a new and different way to serve, I want to invite you to become a member of Buckley's Traumatic Stress Response, or TSR, Team. Formerly known as the Critical Incident Stress Management, or CISM, team, this organization plays a vital role in mitigating the impact of critical, traumatic or stressful (pick your adjective) events on the mission.

Translation: we exist to help each other cope effectively with events ranging from suicides to air craft mishaps to mass casualties. Air Force Instruction 44-153 outlines the mandatory team members, such as chaplains, life skills providers, and Airman and family readiness members, but historically includes 'peer volunteers' of all ranks, including civilians, working in all career fields. The only real criteria for inclusion is an interest in volunteering.

In March 2006 the revised AFI was published, the very specific CISM model was changed to TSR, a Red Cross-oriented model of psychological first aid. We were given the chance to broaden our team base and provide an exciting opportunity for folks to get involved. And these are transportable skills -- no matter where you are assigned, in garrison or in theater, a TSR team exists and needs volunteers.

On Oct. 19 we are teaming up with Dr. Curt Drennan, Colorado Department of Human Services mental health disaster coordinator, to provide a field training for volunteers interested in being part of Buckley's TSR team.

As mentioned before, we'd like a peer volunteer base of all ranks and all specialties so everyone is a candidate.

If you are interested in the training, please contact me no later than Oct. 5 at 720- 847-6451 or via email at michelle.wine@buckley.af.mil to reserve your slot. Training availability is limited, so first come, first serve.