There is a peer-led Alcohol Support Group on base for those struggling with alcohol and its effects.
The group meets twice a month at the Family Life Center. The group is open to all active duty, reserve and retired service members as well as dependents.
The group meets in civilian clothes, no names or personal information are collected, and speaking is optional. Additionally, information discussed during meetings is not shared outside the group, and notes are not taken.
The group was started by Tech. Sgt. Jarrid Bartoy, 333rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit flight line expediter, after struggling with alcohol consumption himself.
“I started the group because I felt that I was alone and the only one struggling with alcohol,” Bartoy said. “I realized I wasn’t alone, and now I want to help others who may be struggling but don’t want to go to a military program. I want to use my struggle with alcohol and my experience with military programs to guide others.”
Bartoy leads the group with the help of Senior Airman Tyler Kimmel, 333rd Fighter Squadron crew chief, and Tech Sgt. James Kelley, 333rd Fighter Squadron tactical aircraft maintenance crew chief.
“I got involved with this program to help others,” Kimmel said. “During recovery, it is important to be honest with yourself and to have someone who is there for you. Even if it helps just one person, it is worth it.”
The group is an intermediate step between struggling alone and getting professional treatment. There are others who have struggled with alcohol who want to help their brothers and sisters heal and get on a healthy path.
“The group has helped me get through some of the roughest months I have had in a long time,” Bartoy said. “The support I get from talking with the members helps me remember that it is OK to not be OK, I am strong not weak, and I am not alone. Opening up about my story to so many people has helped me grow as a person. The power of vulnerability is amazing.”
Having others to speak with who know the demands and pressures of the military lifestyle, share similar experiences and who have experience with military programs for alcohol treatment is valuable.
“We have very different experiences with alcohol and our path to recovery,” Bartoy said. “Some of us got treatment while others didn’t. Not everyone needs actual treatment, some just want to speak to others that know what they are going through. Between us, we have spoken with or had an experience with all of the major agencies on base: ADAPT, Mental Health and BHOP.”
Bartoy added that while there is a need for government-sponsored programs, the anonymity and unofficial nature of the Alcohol Support Group is what makes it attractive.
For more information, call 360-232-2154 or join one of the group meetings at the Family Life Center on the first and third Wednesday of every month at 5 p.m. The Alcohol Support Group is looking to grow and welcomes new people, ideas and feedback.