Presidio of Monterey ACS, BOSS team up against holiday stress

By Winifred BrownDecember 16, 2021

Jillian Santillanez (left) victim advocate for the Family Advocacy Program at Presidio of Monterey Army Community Service, and Hugo Ambriz Tena, Better Opportunities for Single Service members advisor and recreation specialist for PoM Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, look on as service members pick out treats after a holiday stress briefing at the Hobson Recreation Center, PoM, Calif., Dec. 11.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Jillian Santillanez (left) victim advocate for the Family Advocacy Program at Presidio of Monterey Army Community Service, and Hugo Ambriz Tena, Better Opportunities for Single Service members advisor and recreation specialist for PoM Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, look on as service members pick out treats after a holiday stress briefing at the Hobson Recreation Center, PoM, Calif., Dec. 11. (Photo Credit: Winifred Brown) VIEW ORIGINAL
Jillian Santillanez (left) victim advocate for the Family Advocacy Program at Presidio of Monterey Army Community Service, speaks with a service member as others pick out treats after a holiday stress briefing at the Hobson Recreation Center, PoM, Calif., Dec. 11.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Jillian Santillanez (left) victim advocate for the Family Advocacy Program at Presidio of Monterey Army Community Service, speaks with a service member as others pick out treats after a holiday stress briefing at the Hobson Recreation Center, PoM, Calif., Dec. 11. (Photo Credit: Winifred Brown) VIEW ORIGINAL

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Dec. 16, 2021) – By design, the holiday stress briefing for service members at the Hobson Recreation Center Dec. 11 was low-key.

“We are keeping it simple,” said Jillian Santillanez, victim advocate for the Family Advocacy Program at PoM Army Community Service. “We don’t want this to be difficult. We want this to be easy for them and fun.”

About 50 service members attended the briefing, which included a table full of treats and tips from Santillanez on how to reduce holiday stress. Santillanez organized the event in conjunction with Better Opportunities for Single Service members, which has its headquarters at the Hobson. Her aim was to help service members decrease stress and maintain better relationships. Ultimately, both contribute to increased readiness.

Santillanez and Hugo Ambriz Tena, BOSS advisor and recreation specialist for PoM Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, invited service members to listen to the briefing to then pick out a dessert and hot cocoa or tea and relax.

Santillanez said learning how to manage stress during the holidays can help people have better relationships with their intimate partners, family members and others.

“Everybody’s schedule is jam-packed, and because we have this general idea that it should be fun, people have an idealized version of how the holidays should work, but when it comes into play, it’s not always like that, so if we can learn to manage the stress of each of the days of the holiday, it becomes much more peaceful,” Santillanez said.

Santillanez said she kept the briefing quick and easy so service members, most of them students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at PoM, would not think of it as yet another briefing to digest. “Let’s just have fun and enjoy ourselves,” she said.

Her first tip was the four-count breath, where a person breathes in to the count of three and then exhales on the fourth count. Her second was to find a sensory response to stress, such as lighting a scented candle or listening to music. Her third was to come up with a self-care plan in times of stress, such as having a cookie or a cup of tea. The plan could also integrate four-count breaths and sensory responses that work.

Tena said members of the BOSS organization are always looking for ways to make the military community at PoM better.

“We’re just one big family and we’re always seeing what we can do for the service members,” Tena said.

While PoM FMWR advertised the event beforehand, most of the participants just happened to be at the center—it was a Saturday night—and stopped by to see what was going on and grab a treat.

“We didn’t know it was going to happen,” said Airman 1st Class Tony Torres, assigned to the 314th Training Squadron, who was at the Hobson with two friends. “We were just here hanging out. It’s a nice surprise. It’s a wholesome event.”

Airman Basic Wyatt Hutcheson, also assigned to the 314th Training Squadron, said he is new to the PoM and appreciated the event and others like it at the Hobson.

“It’s cool that they’re doing this,” Hutcheson said. “It’s just nice. It’s a nice community that we’ve got here.”

Upcoming PoM BOSS events include Holiday Karaoke at 7 p.m. Dec. 17; Free Gingerbread House Kits at noon Dec. 23; a Christmas hike with free donuts and hot cocoa at 11 a.m. Dec. 25; and a Super Smash Brothers Tournament with free pizza at 1 p.m. Jan. 2. For more information call (831) 242-5477.