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Recognition, treatment key in overcoming stress

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AETCNS) -- Master Sgt. John Myers, 381st Training Squadron’s first sergeant, visits with some Airmen from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., not long after they arrived Sept. 1. First sergeants are just one of several sources available for Airmen who need help with stress. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sandy Wassenmiller)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AETCNS) -- Master Sgt. John Myers, 381st Training Squadron’s first sergeant, visits with some Airmen from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., not long after they arrived Sept. 1. First sergeants are just one of several sources available for Airmen who need help with stress. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sandy Wassenmiller)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AETCNS) -- Now that the storm has settled, those military members and their families who were left with little in the wake of Hurricane Katrina could begin to experience signs of stress. Individuals need to be able to recognize those signs and be able to point those stressed members in the right direction.

According to Maj. L. Lynn Pauley, a clinical psychologist at Sheppard Life Skills Support Center, stress symptoms can come in a variety of forms and everyone has their own unique circumstances and concerns.

"There are physical and mental responses to stress," she said. "These are common and normal reactions to abnormal situations, such as surviving Hurricane Katrina."

These responses include but are not limited to changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, constant sweating or shakes, headaches, irritability, mood swings, indecisiveness, lack of concentration, confusion and trouble remembering things.

In spite of this, Major Pauley said most symptoms will diminish or normalize with time, rest, food and communication.

Some of the ways members can help themselves cope better is through rest and relaxation; staying hydrated; eating regularly and sensibly; sharing thoughts and feelings with others, pace and try not to do everything at once; ask for help and use those resources that are available.

Chaplain. (Capt.) Kristina Coppinger, a Protestant chaplain at the Solid Rock Café on Sheppard AFB, said stressed members should be encouraged to continue their traditions.

"If the person is involved in worship services, they should get back involved," she said. "Encourage people to return to the roots of their faith and if they have none, maybe now is a good time to explore faith."

Along with Life Skills and the chaplains, members seeking help can also find help in military training instructors, first sergeants and commanders.

"We do our best to help our people," said Master Sgt. Timothy Clouse, 82nd Mission Support Squadron first sergeant. "Any issue they have, we take care of - we (first sergeants) have an open door policy."

"(Keesler members) have been through a great ordeal," Major Pauley said, "and we hope to share our Texas hospitality with (them) for as long as (they) are here."
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