Enjoy Korea's autumn splendor, await holidays, onset of winter

By Col. Jack HaefnerOctober 16, 2015

Col. Jack Haefner
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP RED CLOUD -- If you've been out on Korea's roads recently you may have noticed that the rice fields that were such a deep, vivid green through summer have slowly turned to yellow-gold as summer's faded to fall.

And you may also have noticed more people than usual out in those fields, bending to their work under a crisp blue sky. They're Korea's farmers, harvesting the rice they so painstakingly planted in the spring.

All reminders once again that Korea, and we who live and serve in Korea, are now well into the fall and will soon enough be closing in on winter.

For us in the Area I community, this passage into the final months of the year brings lots to look forward to, but also a few things to be on guard against.

There's the warmth and festive spirit of the holiday season that will be here before you know it. You can enjoy the many fall sporting events, trips and other recreational and travel opportunities our garrison makes available to the Warrior Country community.

But we know that for all the festive good spirits of the end-of-year holiday season, some struggle with separation from family and reducing daylight.

So one of the most important reminders I want to give our Area I community is that helping prevent suicide is the business of everyone in our Army family. This is for all of us, Soldiers regardless of rank, civilians, family members, all members of our community.

Leaders especially have a responsibility to keep a watchful eye out for the well-being of their Soldiers and staff members. Those in leadership positions should use all available resources to help foster safety and resilience.

The Army uses the "ACE" formula -- "Ask, Care, Escort" -- to remind us that if we think or know someone's suicidal we should take action, calmly but right on the spot.

Ask if they're going to hurt themselves; talk with them and pay close attention, letting them get everything out that's troubling them; and then do not leave them but stay with them and get them to the trained professionals who'll take it from there. That means getting them to a chaplain, a medical clinic or behavioral health or to their unit leadership.

U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I maintains a Suicide Hotline. If you need help or know someone who does, call: 010-3762-0457.

At the same time, one of the most potent defenses against emotional or physical harm is to nourish our physical fitness and emotional resilience. Give yourself the proper combination of physical activity, sleep and nutrition -- the Army Fitness Triad. Don't neglect spiritual fitness; know what things foster emotional and psychological resilience, and do them.

In Area I we have many comprehensive resources available to you.

Our world-class fitness centers include the recently renovated Carey Physical Fitness Center, and the Health and Human Performance Center. We have swimming pools, bowling alleys, movie theaters.

Organized sports are a way of life in Warrior Country. We're currently in our flag football and soccer seasons. Our libraries and education centers can enrich your life for years to come. And there are tours, including the DMZ tour that you do well to take whenever it's offered. And trips to places like the historic Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, or Lotte World Amusement Park.

You can keep abreast of what sports, recreational, entertainment and other leisure activities are available by checking our monthly In The Zone magazine and our Area I Facebook page.

Because fall can turn to winter pretty quickly here in Korea, we need to be ready for the onset of bad weather. Snow, ice and frigid temperatures can pose safety hazards and delays.

As always, we'll use our Facebook page and other media to give you safety and other weather-related bulletins when necessary. If, for instance, we need to close a road or announce a delay, we'll get the word up fast.

Last month the Korean people celebrated Chuseok, the annual harvest festival, their biggest national holiday and traditionally, a time of thanksgiving. We had the pleasure of joining our Korean friends in some of their celebrations. It reminded us again how fortunate we are to be in Korea and to share in its rich history and culture, to get out and see its vibrant cities, its scenic landscapes, and to enjoy each of its four seasons.

We can also feel thankful that our two great nations, the Republic of Korea and the United States, work so well together. One example of this right here in Area I is the fact that members of both armies have been combined this year into a single division, now known as the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division.

Our garrison, night and day, whatever the season, will carry on in its main mission: supporting the warfighters of the Combined Division and our other tenant units here in Warrior Country so that they're "Ready to Fight Tonight."

We've been very excited to work with the rotational units currently here, including the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, known also as the Black Jack Brigade.

In just a few months we'll be welcoming the next rotational brigade and field artillery battalion.

But, winter's not here yet. The fall, with its cool temperatures and dazzling foliage, is still with us. And as I sometimes point out, our region of Korea, North Gyeonggi Province, is known for its fresh air, great hiking and rugged hills and mountains.

I encourage you to make the most of all this. Our Korean friends take pride in the beauty of their country in autumn. Get out and with your own eyes see Korea's hills and mountains ablaze in autumn colors.

Meanwhile, in all you do, be safe, be resilient, be a good neighbor and friendly ambassador for our country as you represent us when you're out among our allies and friends, the people of Korea.

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