TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Nowadays, Senior Airman Emanuel Guzman, 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron field training and support journeyman, finds himself surrounded by friends, with motivation to do his job while doing what he loves.
Things weren’t always so upbeat in Guzman’s life. He had to overcome obstacles and hardships before becoming the man he is today.
“I got to Travis Air Force Base in February 2017 and when I got here, my shop was very welcoming, but it didn’t take long for the novelty of a new base to wear off because aside from work, I didn’t know anyone,” said Guzman.
With no one to socialize with, Guzman’s morale began to suffer.
“My mood began deteriorating over time because I had no one to talk to or hang out with. I felt alone,” said Guzman. “It takes me a long time before I get comfortable enough to approach people and it felt especially hard on base. I mean, I didn’t go through boot camp or technical school with the Airmen here, so I did not feel connected to them.”
Guzman didn’t always feel so lonely in the military. During basic training and tech school, he made friends with two Airmen.
“But once tech school ended, we got split up and sent to different bases, so I had to start from scratch again with all new people,” Guzman said.
After the trio of friends parted ways, Guzman looked for ways to make friends at Travis AFB.
“It took me a while, but I eventually decided to participate in one of the sports teams on base,” said Guzman. “I love soccer. It’s one of my passions. So it seemed like a great way to make some new friends.”
His love for soccer encouraged him to meet others who love soccer as much as he does, however his first attempt failed to yield the results he desired.
“I tried going to practices with the base team but I didn’t feel like I fit in with the members on the soccer team,” he said. “I wanted to play for fun but these guys were playing to win tournaments. I found I spent more time on the bench than on the field and didn’t build much of a friendship with any of the other members.”
Feeling he didn’t have much in common with the members of the base soccer team, Guzman’s morale began to decline again. He said he felt alone, especially when he started to have issues at work.
“I was disciplined for accidentally damaging equipment, so it didn’t matter where I was; I wasn’t happy anywhere,” said Guzman. “I found myself alone. All I could think was, ‘What’s the point in trying anymore?’”
Life can push people down, so learning to cope is vital, said Maj. David Weller, 60th Medical Operations Squadron officer in charge of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment team.
“Dealing with struggles alone is best understood from a fatigue management perspective,” said Weller. “Imagine trying to hold a full water bottle out at arm's length for as long as you can. It will only be a matter of seconds before your arm, shoulder, neck and back start to burn, and, in all likelihood, your arm will slowly start to lower until the muscles fatigue and your arm drops to your side.”
Try imagining the tiring muscle as a person’s willingness to keep on pushing forward in life, he continued. Eventually, like the muscles in the arm, one’s mental state will tire out and give up.
“Carrying a burden by yourself has a similar effect on your mental and emotional muscles,” said Weller. “Effective stress management skills help us find ways to either lighten the load or find different ways to carry it. Now, imagine having a wingman help you hold that water bottle. How much longer could you hold it out if you had the help of one or more people?”
Guzman still wanted to play soccer, but knew he had no desire in trying to join the base team. He planned on building a team of his own, so he could play soccer for fun and make friends in the process.
“I wanted to build a group that would always feel welcomed whether they were good, bad, just learning or just there for the day,” said Guzman. “But I didn’t know how to spread the word about my club so people knew it existed.”
After days of looking for good ways to get the word out, the solution came to him.
“I first heard about Club Hub during a Chief Chat. Chief Master Sgt. Derek Crowder, 60th Air Mobility Wing command chief, mentioned it and it got me thinking,” said Guzman. “I found the website and when I finally got the club going, it felt like I overcame an obstacle.”
During the Chief Chat, Crowder encouraged Airmen to check out Club Hub, a program at Travis AFB that offers a wide range of clubs ran by Airmen.
“Club Hub, just like any program is only as good as those who take advantage of it,” said Crowder. “It is not my program; it is our program. I encourage you to check it out to see the many clubs we offer. If we do not have a club that interests you, I ask you to create one. There are no bounds to the amount of clubs we can have and together we can make a difference in the lives of others.”
When Guzman posted his club online, he began connecting with more people through their shared love for soccer.
“Since I made the soccer club, I’ve gained lots of new friends and met so many people who enjoy playing soccer as much as me,” said Guzman. “We are a very welcoming group. We try not to exclude those who just want to participate and hope to build full teams soon for legit games.”
Through Club Hub, Guzman said his morale has improved and he now enjoys being assigned at Travis AFB.
“Club Hub has raised my morale through the roof, because it gave me a way to bring people together,” said Guzman. “People who may not be good enough for the base team or just want to play for fun are welcome here, we have fun. We crack jokes and enjoy each other’s company. What could be better? We only play once a week and that’s enough to keep my spirits high because now I have something to look forward to every time a new week starts up.”
The impact Club Hub had on Guzman is the reason Crowder introduced the program, he said.
“The Club provides Airmen with a place to connect through the love of specific activities Airmen choose,” said Crowder.
“My goal for Club Hub is an opportunity for Airmen to connect with other individuals with common interests. Through that connection, you build friendships that often last longer than just your current assignment.”
For more information about Club Hub, visit https://www.travis.af.mil/TAFB-Club-Hub/.