BUCKEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., held its first-ever “Team Buckley Connects Day”, Sept. 27, 2019. The goal of the event was to share with Airmen stories of hope, where they can turn to in times of hopelessness, ways to stay mentally healthy and to connect with others.
The day began with a general assembly where Airmen heard from a panel of speakers directly affected by suicide.
“Suicide is the number one killer in our Air Force today,” said Col. Devin R. Pepper, 460th Space Wing commander. “That says a lot. It tell us that our Airmen are lost and in need of hope. Our priority here is keeping our Airmen connected, supported and safe. This trend has to end.”
It’s no secret where the Air Force is regarding its struggles with suicide. One Airman lost is one too many, and the silence from these Airmen is too loud to ignore.
Alicia Pepper, the 460th SW commander’s spouse, and one of the panelist, shared her experience with suicide when her brother ended his life earlier this year.
“It was the hardest moment of our lives. He left behind so many people who love him,” said Alicia. “I wish he had given himself a pause, a moment to think about the people who love him that he left behind.”
Team Buckley Connects Day put an emphasis on hope. No matter how dark your day may get, to know that there is hope and there is always another day as long as you give yourself that opportunity.
Another panelist, Senior Master Sgt. Pourschia Chambers-Motley, Air Reserve Personnel Center classification and individual reserve training manager, expressed to Team Buckley her personal struggle with suicidal thoughts and how she continues to overcome them.
“You have to just make up your mind in that moment to seek help no matter what your rank is, no matter what your position is, and no matter how important you think you are,” said Chambers-Motley. “Your health and your mental stability is all that matters in that moment.”
That is why Buckley put together a day where Airmen could connect not only with one another, but with helping agencies. The day included breakout sessions where Airmen could learn about a variety of things from nutrition to mindfulness, and connect with people from different helping agencies.
“I’m proud of our Airmen and the conversations we are starting to have about this issue,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright. “Connection is one thing… if not the One Thing we need in our teams. Knowing your teammates and building trust will help us move forward as a service.”
The day concluded with a lunch on the softball field with a plethora of recreational activities to enable Buckley members to connect with one another.
Chief Master Sgt. Tamar S. Dennis, 460th SW command chief, added “Please, be a wingman and ask how each other is doing. Truly ask and care for the person beside you. We have to connect to combat what is going on.”
For those who are struggling, please find the strength to reach out. Team Buckley has many helping agencies ready to serve you immediately. Pick up the phone, ask a friend, speak to a coworker — do something for the chance to choose life.
Below are a list of helping agencies you can reach out to. You can also reference the helping agencies matrix to align your situation with the best suited helping agency.
If you are considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention Program (ADAPT) – 720-847-6451
Airman & Family Readiness Center (A&FRC) – 720-847-6681
Behavioral Health Optimization Program (BHOP) – 720-847-9355
Chaplain Corps – 720-847-4631
Equal Opportunity (EO) – 720-847-6250
Family Advocacy – 720-847-6453
Civilian Fed Occupational Health – Employee Assistance Program – 800-222-0364
Health Promotions – 720-847-6451
Mental Health – 720-847-6451
Military & Family Life Counselor (MFLC) – 720-847-6681
Military One Source 24/7 Operations – 800-342-9647
Sexual Assault Prevention & Response (SAPR) – 720-847-7272