GREAT FALLS — Recent events in Afghanistan and the upcoming 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks are bound to stir up difficult memories or feelings for current and former service members.
But thanks in part to a former Malmstrom airman, an online platform is offering help and encouraging those impacted to stay brave.
“A lot of us have either been there, served there, known someone that’s served there, lost someone that’s served there, felt the after effects of some that’s served there,” said TSgt. Sean Batson who now serves as a Security Forces Flight Sergeant at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.
Batson served at Malmstrom Air Force Base for four years. He was instrumental in getting the Brave Badge Initiative up and running, giving security forces a place to know they’re not alone. “There are a plethora of people around you that are feeling the same way you feel or are going through the same thing you’re going through,” said Batson.
Their Facebook page has more than 11,000 members. The group provides resiliency information and the program features an anonymous tool.
“If you’re in need of assistance and don’t want to identify, hit us up on our anonymous tool,” said Batson. “We will do our best to get you in touch with somebody or reach out to you or someone around you can reach out to you and assist you.”
For those struggling with the coverage of current events, Batson suggests reaching out to a “battle buddy.”
“The military instills this idea or concept of having someone close enough to you that you can reach out to comfortably and at least express, get something off your chest, that weight,” said Batson.
He also encourages people to find an outlet to burn off stress. Maybe going to the gym or engaging in a hobby. He says it's important for friends and family members to watch for changes in behavior.
“Watch people’s alcohol consumption, watch if they begin to use drugs, or they’re isolating themselves and showing signs of depression and anxiety,” said Batson. “Take care of someone if you see them struggling.”
Sean says the Brave badge Initiative Facebook page is a good place to start for information and resources. It’s manned 24-7. Look for the hashtag staybrave.
The Brave Badge Initiative also reminds veterans who may struggling that help is available through the Veterans Crisis Line by calling 1-800-273-8255 and choosing Option #1.
Veterans can also reach out through the Military One Source Line at 1-800-342-9647.