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New Year, New Me: NBG Chaplains Seek to Break Mental Health Stigmas Year Round

31 January 2023

From Valerie Maigue , U.S. Naval Base Guam

NAVAL BASE GUAM (Jan. 31, 2023) – Chaplains at U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) are working to break the stigma of mental health and seeking help for it.
NAVAL BASE GUAM (Jan. 31, 2023) – Chaplains at U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) are working to break the stigma of mental health and seeking help for it.

At the beginning of the New Year many individuals want a fresh start and set out to accomplish goals. However, several weeks into the New Year, individuals may be harder on themselves because they feel they have not accomplished or started their resolutions, said NBG Chaplain Lt. Joseph Buck.

“It’s actually mid to the latter part of January when it’s harder, because they begin taking stock of things or they feel they may not have gotten off to a good start,” Buck said. “You have these thoughts day after day, coupled with a lot of negative self talk – so what we want is to help people be that voice to bring somebody back.”

The NBG Chapel has three Navy chaplains: two protestant chaplains and one Roman Catholic chaplain who are available for counseling, in addition to religious rites and rituals.

“Navy Chaplains are unique in the Sea Services, because we offer services others cannot provide,” Buck said. “Clients have 100 percent confidentiality, which allows chaplains to walk with you through struggles in a way no one else can.”
Service members and their dependents have absolute confidentiality with a chaplain. While other counseling resources may have mandatory reporting requirements, chaplains cannot disclose anything to authorities, nor are they subject to participating in investigations.
“Our NBG Chapel Team has a diverse background and experiences, and we are ready to help when called upon,” Buck said.
Stress, anxiety, and worry are normal responses to perceived or real threats. The last few years have been a testament to facing uncertainty and the unknown, as many are still reeling from the affects and isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suicide is not an easy topic to talk about, but the NBG Chapel continues to prepare Sailors and help them become aware of opportunities to help prevent suicide and how to help their shipmates connect to resources through programs like safeTALK.
According to Buck, the goal of NBG Chapel in FY-23 is quarterly safeTALK and ASIST courses. The next safeTALK course is scheduled for Feb. 28, and the ASIST course will be held on March 28 and 29.
The 'safe' of safeTALK stands for 'suicide alertness for everyone'. The 'TALK' letters stand for the practice actions that one does to help those with thoughts of suicide: Tell, Ask, Listen, and Keep Safe.
The safeTALK program is designed to be a four-hour course that helps participants learn about suicide awareness and how to have conversations about suicide to eliminate the stigma associated with the concept. Participants will learn to move from awareness, to recognizing the signs, to having discussions in an effort to help connect them to safety.
ASIST stands for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training and is a two-day training program that teaches participants how to assist those at risk for suicidal thinking, behavior, or attempts.
“Until recently, suicide was a word people avoided even saying,” Buck said. “Suicide has a tremendous amount of baggage, and not addressing the concept was proving to be detrimental to mental health and not decreasing the suicide rate. SafeTALK facilitates a conversation and develops skills necessary to move people away from suicide to safety. LivingWorks has high standards for their ever-evolving training curriculum and processes, and that helps ensure a high-quality event.”
All DOD ID cardholders are eligible to attend the trainings, which are geared to those over 18 years of age, Buck said.
Buck encourages Sailors and family members to take advantage of the counseling services and programs being offered.
“We’re here to provide, spiritual and emotional support and guidance, and we recognize that sometimes you just need someone to talk to – we can be that resource,” Buck said.
For more information and if you are interested in chapel services and programs, contact the NBG Chapel at (671) 339-2126  or email the chapel distribution list at

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