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Joint Base MDL Opens Up 'Sean's Room'

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sabatino DiMascio
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

Service members assigned to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst have another safe place on base to address and strengthen their mental well-being.

The joint base celebrated the soft opening of Sean’s Room during a ceremony July 10.

Temporarily located in the McGuire Passenger Terminal, this new service is modeled off Sean’s House, a program based out of Newark, Delaware, Sean’s Room provides a safe peer-to-peer environment for JB MDL personnel to receive mental health support and confidentiality in accordance with the law.

“Sean’s Room is by Airmen, for Airmen to make a difference,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Elizabeth Hanson, 305th Air Mobility Wing commander. “The Airmen have taken it and grown with it. This provides many options for individuals, with the main one being the opportunity to get peer-to-peer support. It lowers barriers and is more informal. It doesn’t go into one’s medical record, so it reduces the stigma and increases access to finding help. All are welcome, no matter what uniform you wear.”

Sean’s House was originally started by Christopher Locke after he lost his son, Sean, to suicide in 2018.

After losing two friends to suicide within a year, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Connor Runkle, a C-17 Globemaster III Crew Chief from the 305th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was inspired to act with Col. Hanson to bring this program to JB MDL.

“The foundation of this entire program is based on hope.” Runkle said. “Building hope for anyone across the base to come in and know that they are going to be listened to. We are here to help through an avenue that is anonymous and confidential. Whether it’s a real crisis or someone just needs to vent. We sign non-disclosure agreements to ensure not only someone is getting the resources they need, but we also offer a level of privacy, so someone isn’t scared away.”

While Sean’s Room is the newest mental health tool at JB MDL, it is incentivized as a new means for individuals to seek help similar to the True North program, Military OneSource, and Chaplain Corps.

“The more options we have for individuals to seek assistance when they need it, the better,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Anthony Smith, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst commander. “I’m looking forward to seeing the positive results it yields for our members.”

During the soft launch phase, Sean's Room will be open on a limited scale in the VIP lounge in the McGuire Passenger Terminal, giving the staff the ability to evaluate and fine-tune the program's services and functionalities. It also will allow the team to gain feedback from visitors. A grand opening is planned for later this year, once initial feedback is implemented and the final details are worked out. 

Sean’s Room JBMDL is located in the McGuire Passenger Terminal and is open 7 days a week from 0700-2300. After hours, or if unable to stop by, Sean’s Room peers may be reached at 609-864-7210.