FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Team Fairchild Airmen and 92nd Medical Group workers created a Grief Support Group for Airmen and their family members grieving after the death of a loved one.
The Grief Support Group provides an open and safe environment for grieving Airmen and their families to commune every second and fourth Wednesday of the month at the Airman and Family Readiness Center.
“It’s really to provide a social but safe environment for people who are struggling with the loss of a loved one,” said Capt. Mitch Galloway, 66th Training Squadron flight commander and combat rescue officer. “[It also shows Airmen] a lot of people share these experiences and feelings, and they’re not alone.”
Although Fairchild has mental health care options, like therapists, this is the first group-healing option; Galloway and Ruth Sunde, 92nd MDG family advocacy intervention specialist, worked together to start the group because it’s equally as powerful as therapists and promotes togetherness within the base.
“Groups are very powerful because as a therapist, I can sit there and nod my head, but that’s not as validating as someone who says ‘I experienced that, too; I remember every morning that I woke up and he/she was the first person I thought of.’ That commonality and connectedness is so very powerful,” Sunde said.
The group encourages members to talk through their grief and share their methods of healing for all to learn and incorporate within their own lives.
“If you never talk to anybody about [losing someone], you kind of go through it in the dark,” Galloway said. “It’s for you to get that out and it’s also a way for other people to give you some guidance, especially when you’re totally [overwhelmed] with emotion and you don’t know how to deal with it, and you’re only working with the tools that you have.”
The group encourages all active duty, air national guard and air reserve service members, to also include their family members, retirees, and civilians with access to base.
The group is available on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at the Airman and Family Readiness Center, here, from 12-1 p.m. For more information about this program and who can attend, contact Galloway at (509) 247-8745 or Sunde at (509) 247-5409.