National Guard Airman Walks Across Iowa to Raise Awareness for Mental Health

Technical Sgt. Jeff Campbell a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape Specialist with the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City, Iowa is walking across the state of Iowa, in order to raise awareness about mental health. The journey is taking Campbell on a 20 day 389 mile journey across the state. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot

An airman from the 185th Air National Guard, Technical Sergeant Jeff Campbell, is crossing Iowa from border to border by foot to raise awareness of depression and other mental health issues.

As a “Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape” specialist for the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City, Campbell is very passionate about mental health and stated that the main part of survival on the battlefield is mustering the mental strength or will to survive in very difficult situations.

“I want to remind people that they are not alone,” Campbell said. “In the military, we do a really good job of giving our people all the equipment they need, but it simply comes down to mentality. Do you have something that you’re holding on to, to get you out of this very small speck of time that you’re going through, that’s the big difference.”

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, somebody cares,” he said. Campbell harped on the importance of not bottling emotions up and hopes to encourage people to be ready to talk as well as listen about their daily struggles.“We need to teach people that these bubbles of time are not permanent,” Campbell added, saying that the way through a difficult situation is by talking to someone, even though opening up can be awkward. He added that “if people can start having these conversations, then they can start to strengthen their mental muscles.”

Mental health is a particular concern during these times of social distancing and isolation due to Covid-19, it affects everyone. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, like, if you’re struggling mentally you have to be able to step outside of that…and be able to say: ‘Hey, this isn’t going to be forever.” Campbell said.

Campbell’s trip started in Clinton, along the border of Illinois and will end his journey in Sioux City, Iowa. The journey will take 20 days and is 389 miles long.

“Twenty days? Nothing compared to someone who is suffering with depression for six months, someone who is legitimately struggling with a marriage,” Campbell says. “…We need to teach people that these bubbles of time are not permanent. You only do that by talking, by relating, by sitting down, having conversations.”