RAF MILDENHALL, United Kingdom --
RAF MILDENHALL, United Kingdom -- The 352d Special Operations Wing welcomed their two newest members to Air Force Special Operations Command’s Preservation of the Force and Family (POTFF) community. Stacy Cappadona, Community Programs and Peer Network Coordinator (CPPNC) who recently joined the team this past month, along with Ivonn Ellis-Wiggan, the Spiritual Community Programs and Peer Network Coordinator (Spiritual CPPNC).
POTFF, is a special operations command initiative bringing a holistic approach addressing the pressure on the Special Operations military force and also the increased stress on the operators' families.
Stacy and Ivonn team took time to visit with U.S. Air Force Col. Michelle Estes, commander of 352 Special Operations Maintenance Group and airmen assigned to the maintenance squadron, to introduce themselves and begin building relationships.
“I think it’s good to start with maintenance, historically [it’s] one of the largest groups that exists within a wing and it has some of the youngest airmen, which means they have the 18-24-year-olds, which tend to be a high-risk population within any wing,” said Ivonn. “For Col. Estes to provide us with the opportunity to reach this population of airmen, this is an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. We want all of leadership to know that we welcome these opportunities. We want to get out and meet all the airmen that we are committed to serving. We want to engage with them and build relationships with them.”
Afterwards, Ivonn and Stacy sat down to discuss their specific roles and plans to provide the 352 SOW an opportunity to create social bonds as well as provide methods for being mindful and reflective.
Q: What is your focus/role within the POTFF and the 352 SOW community?
A: Stacy - “My biggest priority establishing a peer-to-peer network program. Ivonn and I recruit and train volunteers in the units to be the first line of defense when it comes to their peer’s wellbeing. Our belief is that if airmen and dependents engage with the Peer Supporters at the unit level first, as an equal, then we can begin to find solutions for their problems before they get too big. We provide the Peer Supporters with tools, tips and training on how to be a support system to people in their own squadrons. The primary goals of this program are to decrease behaviors linked to depression and increase quality of life for active-duty members and their families.”
A: Ivonn: “In addition to supporting Stacy in the recruitment and training of Peer Supports, my role focuses on cultivating the spiritual wellbeing of the SOW community. Spirituality refers to an individual’s, or groups’, beliefs, values, principles and practices. So, within my role, it is my responsibility to develop and/or cultivate these characteristics. I can do this by providing resources or trainings, organizing events and supporting individuals on this journey.”
Q: What can you tell us about POTFF that is often misunderstood in regards to mental health?
A: Ivonn- “POTFF takes a holistic approach to how we serve the airmen. We look both at the micro, individual, and macro, community, level when we develop plans to address the needs of airmen. We try and uncover what the individual and community protective factors are and increase those in order to eliminate or mitigate the harm of risk factors.”
A: Stacy- “The POTFF team includes different providers with different specialties, confidentiality requirements, and styles. Whatever it is you are looking for, even if you don’t know what you are looking, just stop on by because chances are we have your flavor. I wish I would have just stopped on by when I was a new spouse and didn’t know what questions I had.”
Q: How has your experience as a Peer Network Coordinator been thus far?
A: Stacy: “It’s been inspiring. We are very fortunate here that our chaplain and our leadership are open to new ideas and all types of spirituality. We have people from all different walks of life in the SOW, and it’s important that we have the freedom for creativity on the POTFF team to make sure everyone can be included in our mission for wellness.”
A: Ivonn - Col Freeman’s, 352 SOW commander, primary objective for our roles is engagement; engagement with airmen and their families. So it’s important for us to be out there with them developing relationships. Our relationships with airmen will also provide us with information related to the health of the community. This information will inform POTFF’s response. So, the fact that we have had opportunities to engage with airmen, I believe, has been a good start.
Whether at home or on-base, POTFF is available to all 352 SOW military members and dependents via email, or by phone 01638541401 or DSN: 2381401.