By Amber Porter
For Sailors deployed to Naval Air Station Sigonella, this Christmas will mean spending the holiday away from family and home. Although this may be the military member’s first or fifteenth deployment and anywhere in between, it can still be hard to celebrate without loved ones. Although the stressors are real, studies and programs are in place to assist those deployed military members.
“Not being around family is so incredibly difficult,” said Aviation Mechanic First Class Erik Swanson, assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 9. “I mean, we signed up for this and we have a mission to do, but it’s still painful to not be there for my family.”
According to a study done by the Department of Defense, which accounted for 1,285,056 military members, the most prevalent stressor for military members was being away from family and deployment. Combined, these account for 38.1% of all reported stress among those who participated in the study.
Interestingly, the study also found that social support is the most helpful influence for deployed military members during times of elevated stress and depression.
When asked what helps the most during the holiday season being away from families, Sailors commented that looking out for their fellow shipmate and knowing that everyone around them is missing someone can help.
“You know that your squadron is there to support you, we try to make the best of the situation,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic Second Class David Orlowicz, also assigned to VP-9.
Every command has a Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) team that strives to plan holiday functions such as a command-sponsored party, to lighten the load for their Sailors.
CSADD’s mission is “to provide military members of all branches with the best prevention and intervention tools possible to deal with the issues of drinking, reckless driving, and other destructive decisions while maintaining good order and discipline, to assist sailors in making life decisions that will maintain positive lifestyles in keeping with the Navy’s core values, to guide sailors away from making poor and destructive decisions by providing them with positive and dynamic training and to show sailors how to make quick positive decisions and put their training to use in moments of high stress and peer pressure.”
“CSADD is a great way to get involved in your military community and get you out of your barracks room,” said Orlowicz. “You get the benefit of being around positive people and then on top of that, you’re helping out others less fortunate than you. It’s a win-win.”
This is the second deployment away from home for Orlowicz, who has been in VP-9 for five years.
You can view the rest of Orlowicz’s interview in the video below: