Memorial Day: US Air Force Lt Col Rachel Lopez on Mental Health and Military Life🇺🇸May 25, 2023
In honor of Memorial Day and being a military spouse, I thought it was important to have a real discussion around mental health and special operators, the ultimate high performers! The special operations community is stacked with high performing men and women who are placed in extremely stressful environments and are expected to thrive under pressure. 🤯
There is SO much stigma around mental health in the military, especially within the high performing community of special operators. Many high performing military members don’t reach out for help for the following reasons:
🚩Fear of being told they can’t get promoted or do the job they want to do
🚩Not being able to deploy, fly or jump
🚩Having extra hoops to jump through or add to their already full plate
🚩Fear of being treated differently or talked about behind closed doors
🚩Not feeling like they know how to reach out or who exactly to talk to
🚩Fear that acknowledging their mental health issues means that they are weak or can’t handle pressure
🚩Having a confusing loss of identity or diminished sense of masculinity
On the podcast this week I sat down with my good friend USAF Lt Col Rachel Lopez. Rachel is the Acquisition Intelligence Branch Chief at the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) at Macdill Air Force Base here in Tampa, Florida. I knew Rachel would be the perfect guest to have on for Memorial Day (other than Austin of course, who is on TDY). Rachel is a high performer, beach volleyball player and possesses amazing leadership qualities. Our conversations have always revolved around mental training, mental health and getting 1% better each day. On the podcast episode we talk all about:
☑️Rachel's journey into the military
☑️ Biggest mental health issues that special operators face
☑️ Rachel's own mental health journey
☑️Gaps in the system, and how we can better support military members w/ mental health
☑️A scary truth that most people don't know about being in the military
☑️ Mindfulness tools that Rachel uses to support her own mental health
Mental health within the military is such an important topic to dive deep on. Our amazingly capable, resilient and honorable high performing veterans need support too. The most strong and capable humans are usually the ones you need to check in on because they will rarely let you know if they are struggling. So THIS is your cue to text or call that strong, capable, badass high performing friend of yours and check-in on them. Ask them how they are doing or if they want to grab a coffee. Tell them that you care about them. Share some of your experience with things that YOU have been struggling with. We have to do a better job of creating a space to give our high performers room to talk about their mental health struggles.
If you are a high performing individual and you are worried about what it might mean for you to acknowledge that you are struggling, just know that your anxiety, PTSD, depression does not define you. There is room for you to be a complete badass AND also struggle sometimes. It does not mean that you are incapable, can’t handle pressure or are weak in any way.
You are not alone. Reach out for help if you need it. People love you. ❤️
Special shoutout to some of my favorite people who I am so proud to know:
🇺🇸My father in law, Frank for serving in Vietnam
🇺🇸My late Grandpa, Harold for over 20 years in USAF, serving in WWII
🇺🇸My superhuman of a husband, TSgt Austin Bicskei, 8 years in USAF SERE
🇺🇸Col Ana Ehrler, for over 20 years in the USAF
🇺🇸Lt Col Rachel Lopez for 18 years, to date, in the USAF
Thank you Veterans for all that you do each and everyday to protect the freedom of our great nation. I will continue to have a full and grateful heart today and everyday for your sacrifices and dedicated service to our country.
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