Anchored in resilience

By Airman 1st Class Azaria E. Foster | Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs | Nov. 2, 2020

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J —

He is from Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He is a son, a brother and now a Seaman Apprentice stationed at Joint Base MDL.

Though George Duartes Alazar is not far from home and surrounded by fellow service members within the 87th Security Forces Squadron, he struggled with feelings of loneliness and the effects of depression.

“I got diagnosed with unspecified depressive disorder only after a couple months of being here,” Duartes Alazar said. “ That was definitely rough. There weren't a lot of people to talk to and for a long time I closed myself in. I had inner struggles I didn't talk about and because of those inner struggles I couldn't arm up at my job. I couldn't work the gates.” 

Some symptoms people experience during depression are: difficulty sleeping, appetite or weight changes, thoughts of death, suicide, or suicide attempts, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, feelings of guilt, loss of interest in hobbies, and fatigue.

To cope with his symptoms, Duartes Alazar combatted his depression by exercising and expressing concern for his mental health to those around him.

“I don’t bottle my emotions anymore,” Duartes Alazar said. “As soon I feel they are starting to occur I do a couple things: exercise and talk to my family and leadership. Exercising definitely helps me. It keeps my mind clear. Even though I’m pretty close to home, I don’t go home often so I usually call my mom because she has been a big support for me. Calling home also helps me connect with my brothers. I also talk to my leadership so they know what's going on.”

Additionally Duartes Alazar relied on the Bible verse Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, to keep him optimistic.

“Before the military I used to preach,” said Duartes Alazar. “I used the uplifting messages I would tell others to encourage myself while I was struggling. I also talked to the Lakehurst chaplain every day. Being able to pray with him really helped.”

 Although Duartes Alazar still has bouts with depression, he has found a support system to help him and encourages others to do the same.

 “I was able to get out of my depression,” Duartes Alazar said. “I thank the people around me for helping me with that, especially my Navy and Air Force leadership. They reached out to me as well as fellow wingmen, sailors and shipmates. Through their support and with medical help, I was able to get back on my feet. If I can do it, anyone else can. Don’t be scared to reach out for help. It’s not a sign of weakness. It takes a lot of strength and courage to ask for help. ” 

To contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline contact 800-273-8255.

For active-duty military members seeking support to cope with depression call the 87th Medical Health Clinic at 609-754-9324.

Military OneSource is another option for military and their families.  For more information, call (800) 342-9647 or visit militaryonesource.mil.

For those seeking to see a civilian provider on base with no documentation, call the Military Family Life Consultant at 609-754-4673.