News: Beating the Blues; Briefs assist Marines, sailors with stress
Story by Lance Cpl. Ian McMahon
CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Beating the Blues is an annual program designed to educate Marines and sailors about issues service members and their families commonly deal with during the winter holidays.
For many forward-deployed service members who are separated from family and friends, the holiday period can be a difficult and stressful time, especially if it is the service member’s first time away from home.
“Beating the Blues can help reduce that stress,” said Deborah Wells, prevention and counseling services manager with the Behavioral Health Family Advocacy Program, Marine and Family Program Branch, Marine Corps Community Services.
Beating the Blues was initiated in 1999 to address safety, suicide and substance abuse. The program added the topics of combat operational stress control in 2004 and sexual assault in 2009.
“The main purpose of the program is to convey vital behavioral health information in an entertaining format and address high-risk behavior during the holiday season,” said Morgan N. Willemsen, the MCCS marketing account executive.
Beating the Blues is required training for all Marines and sailors on Okinawa.
“The training teaches Marines to be aware of danger signs for high-risk behavior and calls on them to care for one another,” said 1st Sgt. Gordon M. Miller, the former acting sergeant major of Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.
Using subject-matter experts as presenters, along with video clips and prizes to convey an upbeat yet serious attitude, the program conveys the importance of staying safe while away from home for the holidays.
“The program challenges Marines to get involved and to provide assistance and seek help for themselves or others as needed,” said Miller.
The program directs Marines to on-base community resources such as Military One Source to assist them in times of crisis.
Along with the training, MCCS provides a list of holiday activities open to all service members and their families, allowing people to stay active and keep their spirits up.