HEADQUARTERS, NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Staring down at her weapon while on her fourth deployment to Afghanistan, Tracy Hurtt was delirious. “Pick me up,” she heard the weapon say.

Hurtt, a retired Army sergeant first class and now a NAVAIR civilian, was battling bronchitis from the poor air quality and then made the unfortunate discovery, via social media, her now ex-husband was cheating. She felt her world beginning to spin out of control.

Hurtt spoke as part of NAVAIR’s sixth annual “Light of Day” event Aug. 23, held outdoors at the River’s Edge Conference and Catering Center overlooking the Patuxent River, with a theme of “Life is Worth Living.” The event included tips on how to think positively and personal stories related to suicide awareness.

For Hurtt, the story is all too personal. After resorting to self-mutilation — “I put cigarette butts out on my skin. It felt better than I did inside: crushed.” — she was sent from Afghanistan to Germany to rest and recover for four days. From there, it was home to the U.S., where she was met with divorce papers.

Diagnosed with major depressive disorder, Hurtt found herself at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where she met NAVAIR’s Wounded Warrior Program Senior Outreach Coordinator and Placement Advocate Sonny Fann. Fann was a “blessing,” who helped Hurtt find her current job at NAVAIR and turn her life around.

“I can truly say thank you for those who got me out of that hole,” she said.

The “Light of Day” event kicked off National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September, which helps raise awareness and connect people who may be suicidal to treatment services. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly 20 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide.

The Department of the Navy Civilian Employee Assistance Program offers free employee assistance and work/life services to help cope with daily stressors and life challenges. Call 1-844-DONCEAP.

12 Ways to Wake Up and Feel Positive for the Day

  • Set your alarm to an uplifting tune.
  • Wake up to a clean room.
  • Smile, regardless of how you might feel at first.
  • Stay off social media and your cell phone.
  • Consider what makes you happy.
  • Be grateful.
  • Go for a morning run.
  • Prepare a delicious breakfast.
  • Relax your body.
  • Focus on breathing.
  • Look at something beautiful.
  • Ask yourself, “How can I make this day amazing?”