Cage the beast with education

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Let's face it: we get angry.

Whether it's traffic jams, the dude ahead in line getting the last cappuccino or waiting weeks for that wrong item to be delivered, stuff gets to us. It's a fact of life that everyday events stress people out, and that stress may lead to anger.

We all know the numerous myths about anger, such as turning green, suddenly growing huge muscles and a deep desire to shout phrases like "SMASH!!"
Joking (and large green mutants) aside, many Airmen struggle with common misconceptions about rage including myths like anger is hereditary or that anger automatically leads to aggression.

Sorting through those myths and learning how to manage stress and anger is a part of life, and the 52nd Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy office can help Airmen do it.

Family advocacy offers a quarterly anger management course to assist Airmen keeping the big green man out of their everyday life.

"What we find is that anger is the most misunderstood emotion that humans experience," said Mitchell Rosenzweig, Family Advocacy Outreach Manager, seated at his desk with an array of pamphlets and papers, highlighting classes offered to help Airmen better their lives. "We are afraid of it, afraid of trying to control it. The class's goal is to be able to help normalize anger, help teach better methods of coping with anger, how to tune into it, and techniques and relaxation exercises to reduce that anger."

The class meets once a week for a month to discuss a variety of topics and scenarios.
In the classroom, a conference table sits in the center with books at each seat, a pen neatly placed by the stack of two free self-help guides. There's a feeling of anxiety in the room as Airmen file in, ready to learn but curiously looking at their new classmates. As discussion begins, the environment warms and Airmen lean forward, engaging in conversation.

A participating member of the class, Jacquie, gave details of what she learned, and how this experience and the knowledge she learned will help her cope with the problem.

"I came in order to have a more peaceful life after noticing that I was being angry or getting triggered by things in the everyday world." She said. "Other people were okay, but I wasn't."

Instructors taught that if a lot of stress is present in everyday life, it can lead to seemingly uncontrollable anger.

"The goal of the class is to give Airmen techniques they can use immediately, like how to identify triggers to anger and some techniques to use to reduce it," Rosenzweig said. "The topics discussed in the class include normalization of anger, myths of anger, physiological responses, the need for anger and ways to reduce anger."

All Airmen have their own reasons for being stressed and angry, at work and in their personal lives. The class aims to show this is a normal human reaction, but the question is not how to stop feeling it, but how people should deal with it.

"The time went really fast; there was a lot of information," Jacquie said. "The most helpful information was concerning the triggers of anger and how those triggers can be different for each person."

Military life is often stressful, from everyday jobs to year-long deployments.

"Airmen have very normal day-to-day stress, and sometimes they just don't know how to deal with it," said Brittny Gainey, family advocacy intervention specialist. "They come here to get good practical tools on how to manage their stress and anger at work and at home."

A better understanding of what anger is and how to control it may provid a peace of mind and allow Airmen to better focus on the mission and take care of their families.

To some, anger is that uncontrollable beast that rips out at any given moment, but this course busts that myth.

"I love anger management," Gainey said. "I love hearing student's stories, I love to see when they first begin the class and how their language and perspectives they use change during the course. Instead of angry, they are at peace, and that makes me happy. It shows me that they are thinking differently. I get to see them grow and become different, more controlled Airmen when they leave the class."

Potential students might be embarrassed to attend the class, but to Jacquie, no one should be discouraged from helping yourself.

"I would just say, as someone who took the class, to encourage people not to be worried about it," said Jacquie. "If anything, you go in there and get two helpful books about anger and stress management. If you ask anybody who took the class, I think they would all say the same thing."

A condensed version of the class can be requested for individual flights or squadrons.

Anger management isn't the only course offered to improve Airmen's lives. Other courses offered include the new parent support program, prenatal and pregnancy classes, parenting class, marital therapy and therapy for abuse cases, crisis counseling and referral resources.

Family advocacy is the primary office for the support of education, prevention and treatment of family maltreatment involving active duty members and their families.

"We offer classes on an ongoing basis in relationships and couples, communication skills and new parent support program where a registered nurse is available to talk to expecting parents and on through age three," Rosenzweig said. "We also offer a number of parenting classes to include active parenting of teens, love and logic aimed at teens for them to understand relationships and classes designed for various age groups to help parents manage the challenges they have with their kids."

For some, it can be frightening to take the step towards a healthier life. But like the Hulk, the beast inside only gets out if it is allowed. Control it with the educational support of family advocacy, and find the peace of mind you and your family deserve.

To sign up for a course, or to find out information on other classes or services, call 06565-61-8279 or DSN 452-8279.