OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
More than 180 members of Team Osan lined the ballroom of the Officer’s Club Sept. 26, 2019. Speckled amongst the guests were volunteers donning black t-shirts with the words “You Matter” written in white letters across the front.
Sponsored by the chapel, the Grit luncheon encouraged Airmen to seek help and find the strength inside them when life gets tough.
Not the first of its kind, the idea traveled with Chaplain Lt. Col. Dwayne Jones, 51st Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps, from his previous assignment.
“Chaplain Jones brought this Grit program with him from his last base and it gave me a framework and a platform to introduce ‘You Matter,’” said Chaplain Capt. Jennifer Ray, 51st FW Chaplain Corps. “It’s an initiative behind one specific Airman that I had frequent encounters with and [who] really became family to me. He later completed the act of suicide.”
The luncheon started with lively music and continued with testimonials from Osan Airmen, telling personal stories of loss and hardship and how they had to find it in themselves to be gritty.
“Grit is where passion and perseverance come together,” Jones said. “It’s this innate determination to thrive and survive by using all of your resources. And that’s internal resources as well as external resources.”
For Ray, it is a way to preserve the memory of the Airman she lost while passing on the knowledge she’s learned from her experience.
“In his honor and in the honor of every military member that has ever contemplated or completed a suicide, I just want them to know that they matter,” said Ray. “To someone, they mean everything. So I want to get that message ingrained into people’s thinking; if we can get those two words to resonate with people’s minds, hearts, spirits and souls, then I believe that we can do the preventative measures to fight against suicide that is plaguing our military.”
The chapel is looking to expand the program in the future.
“We’re looking to do a Grit for children,” said Jones. “And in April we want to come back with another Grit program but with a different speaker, and ‘You Matter’ will continue to be incorporated with Grit.”
For more information on Grit and the “You Matter” campaign, contact the chapel at DSN 784-5000.