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Pope closes offices to recognize Wingman Day

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. David Mizelle
  • Mental Health Flight, NCO-in-Charge
Pope closed its offices Oct. 16 for a Wingman Day event designed to drive home the issues impacting the members assigned to the 43rd Airlift Wing. The day was broken down into two sessions, with the morning focusing on information and discussions on activities that threaten the safety, mission and welfare of every member assigned to our community. The afternoon was for smaller group discussions and role-playing focused on sharing strategies to deal with issues such as stress management and conflict resolution -- tools needed to build a healthy and resilient Airman. 

The morning topics included the wingman concept, suicide prevention and responsible drinking. This year's activities even went a step further by adding the human element in order to provide first-hand accounts from wing members to bring the issues home and provide something personal for each person in attendance to walk away with. Three wing members shared their personal stories and experiences. One discussed his DUI story, another shared his story about the loss of a family member to suicide and another shared her near-death experience from being hit head-on by someone who was texting while driving. 

Our teammates shared their life-altering stories and previous believed attitudes. The Airman who received a DUI told the audience he never gave a second thought to operating a motor vehicle after drinking. He said he thought he was invincible. He also shared how his DUI impacted not only himself, but his family, his teammates and his career - even years later. He said he received a DUI in 2006, glancing at his sleeve showing he's an Airman 1st Class despite being in the Air Force since 2005. He cautioned others to not make the same errors in judgment, which has had a significant impact on his career. 

Another team member provided testimony of how a family member's suicide affects a family. Years later, the impact has continued to burden the surviving family, bringing about the often- asked questions of, "why did it happen" and "was there anything I could have done to make a difference?" Many survivors experience the type of guilt that lingers on. The tragic loss of life that impacts those who are left behind is the message the presenter imparted. 

Finally, a third team member spoke of a recent issue affecting the safety and welfare of those on the road, texting while driving. President Barack Obama recently addressed the issue with an Executive Order against texting while driving while for federal employees. In the speaker's story she commented on how a 23-year-old life was cut short and the significant medical, physical and emotional scars left. Our guest was the victim - she showed pictures of the horrific accident scene, and the injuries she and her husband sustained which nearly cost her life and did cost the life of the young woman who was texting while driving. 

In all, the day was well-received, with many thought-provoking questions and discussions centering on the reoccurring yet life-threatening topics. Each person filled out a survey to provide feedback to Wingman Day organizers and wing leadership in order for them to determine what impact the day made on participants.
The goal of the day was to get everyone to talk openly about issues, come up with solutions and reshape their way of thinking. 

Often, we are told people are the Air Force's greatest resource.