NEWS | May 6, 2020

#StayHome & COVID-19: Reflections from VNG'g Director of Psychological Health

By Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti

It’s been roughly six weeks since the outside closed and we were encouraged to #StayHome in hopes these efforts would slow the spread of COVID-19. Home is where we were the safest and that is where we were told to stay. Early on in the beginning stages of the pandemic I saw a meme – among the hundreds that made me laugh – that said: When I was younger my mom would sometimes make me stay in the house, often times yelling at me saying, “Stay home, outside isn’t going anywhere! Now look, outside is gone.”

That resonated with me so much because there were plenty of times as a young boy, maturing teenager, and even as an emerging adult that I took for granted or neglected what was actually at home, in favor of what was always outside. Sometimes this was relationships, other times it was around the house projects and there were even moments when it was my mental health. Always on the go, pursuing a career, going to classes, attending training, whatever it was that took me away from home also took me away from the opportunity to focus on home.

One of the many reoccurring themes emerging on social media is that this #StayHome period has given us so many opportunities. It’s given families the opportunity to reconnect, partners the opportunity to rediscover each other, parents the opportunity to see what it’s like to teach their own kids during the day. It gave someone like me the opportunity to slow down, read more, run more, focus on stretching and yoga, attempt to grow a beard, and muse on ways I can become a better mental health practitioner.

As the outside begins to open back up and we try to return to some state of normalcy, it is my hope that we don’t forget the many lessons we’ve learned and the things about ourselves that we’ve discovered. I was heartened by the acts of courage shown by those in the Virginia National Guard who were on the frontlines and behind the scenes. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the incredible demonstration of humanity that our service members demonstrated when they answered the call to serve around the citizens of the Commonwealth. The best of us during this pandemic rose to the forefront, and what I saw and experienced was amazing. As a result, I remain optimistic, even though we are not yet in the clear, I choose to believe that brighter days are ahead and that the very best of who we are is still yet to be revealed. 

— Jonathan Goldwire, Director of Psychological Health for the Virginia Army National Guard