A personal touch

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- We live in the Information Age. Technology has exploded during my generation's lifetime. We have come a long way since I was a child and spoke to my grandmother through a telephone connected to the wall with cords. I remember my mother rolling a dishwasher across the kitchen to connect it to the sink with hoses in order to use it - innovation! It was the age of console televisions and air conditioners that hung in windows during the dog days of summer. We thought life was good when video recorders and video games and the Commodore computer came along. Pong is now "retro" enough to almost be cool. Is "cool" even the term anymore?

In this age of internet and cellular phones, we are more connected than ever before. Yet, it seems to me, we are in some ways more disconnected than my younger days. Most of us have access to the Internet in our homes. We have easy access to information at our fingertips. Not only can we send electronic mail but we can instant message one another. We no longer even need computers with the ability to send text messages on our phones. So how could I feel we are disconnected? I have noticed many of us turn first to the world wide web in an effort to solve our problems. We can use any search engine to find a site that promises to have answers. We can research medical advice or fitness, compare insurance rates and coverage and even look up a family tree. The scary truth is the information on the 'net' is only as reliable as the people who put it there. How do we know it is true? How can we judge the validity of what we read?

I have seen too many people try to solve their problems on their own. I am talking about serious problems with finances, relationships and even health problems such as poor fitness, depression or addiction or other ailments. Why do people do this? To save money? I'm sure that is the first answer given by most. Sadly, I think the basic answer is to remain anonymous. Few people are willing to tell another person face-to-face or even over the phone they are in need of assistance. This is where I think we have become disconnected. Why is asking some unknown, unverified, faceless source the better option? I do not believe it is the best option.

Since arriving at Goodfellow, I have met with many wonderful folks from a variety of agencies on base. They have proudly told me about the services and programs they offer. For example, the good folks at the Airman and Family Readiness Center are ready to assist you. They can guide you in matters such as finance, relationships, new babies, careers or just about any area where you need help. They offer lunch programs as well as one-on-one counseling. They will even bring their services to your unit with a little advanced coordination! Unlike the web, you can speak to live people, verify their credentials and reap the benefit of their knowledge and skills.

Still looking for confidentiality? Consider stopping by the chaplain's office. Chaplains will be happy to listen to your concerns and fears and offer some advice and counseling. Chaplain services are not limited to people of any certain faith or religion. They are there for each one of us regardless of our beliefs. It is unlikely you will find a more empathetic listener than a chaplain. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the 17th Medical Group. We always stand at the ready to assist in any way we can. We are here for the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, students, family members and retirees alike. Need help with diet or fitness? The Health and Wellness Center will energize you and get you started!

These are just a sampling of the many wonderful services available to you. There are even more on base and in the community. Your First Sergeant, Commander or military training leader can point you in the right direction.

We are here to guide and help you. So the next time you need some advice, someone to listen or you would just like to learn more, be sure to start by checking out the excellent programs and services right here on Goodfellow Air Force Base.

Your time and well-being are too important to be left to some impersonal, unverified web-site. Go to the folks who are ready and waiting to share their knowledge, skills and experience with you - personally!