Help one another

  • Published
  • By Col. Kimerlee Conner
  • 21st Mission Support Group commander
Stress is an ever evolving issue in today's operational Air Force. Deployment rates are continually on the rise, manning is gradually being reduced, and our budget continues to be cut. During this critical time period, every Airman needs to take care of themselves and one another. During day-to-day operations, stress and pressure on every member can continually increase. Everyone, regardless of rank and years of service, feels stress from one time to another. As Airmen, it is our duty to help each other deal with stress in a positive and healthy way.

As co-workers, many of us are in the best position to identify changes in people we work with on a daily basis. Many indicators can exist when identifying people that are feeling stress. As friends, supervisors, coworkers, and subordinates, we need to recognize when our fellow Airmen are distressed. One of the most important things we can do as Wingmen is to take genuine interest in our co-workers. All too often, supervisors, coworkers and subordinates are so wrapped up in their own lives, they do not realize what is going on around them. Take the time to watch and to listen to your co-workers. Frequently, we say the automatic words, "hi, how are you." And the response is generally: "Fine, thank you." As some of the people who have the most consistent, regular contact with your co-workers, you will be able to tell when the tone, demeanor and body language are different. Do not hesitate to ask about it when you identify that change.

What do I mean? When someone you see every morning, who always comes in with a smile on their face and greets everyone, suddenly comes in and does not address anyone and goes silently to their desk, you know something is different. Instead of sitting back and thinking, "well that was weird," take the time to ask them if everything is alright. Just by asking, you make a difference. They immediately know someone cares about them - just knowing that can make a huge impact on a person. Affording them the opportunity to discuss whatever may be on their mind might be just what they need. Never underestimate your ability to make a difference to someone.

As supervisors and friends, we all play a pivotal role in fostering a community of teamwork. As a supervisor and coworker, you have to take visible, sincere interest in the well being of those you work with. If you truly want to be able to tell when someone is doing well or not, you have to know them first. The easiest way to truly get to know someone is to find some common interest you can talk about. Once you can talk to someone about a common interest, the dialogue will help you to understand the person all that much better. When you know someone better, you can begin to tell when things are different and when they may be having a bad day or things are not going well.

Being a good Wingman is not always an easy job. Like anything else in life, if you want to be good at it, you are going to have to put in some work. Being a good wingman does not mean just asking someone if they are alright, and when they say yes, keep going on with your own day. Unfortunately, many times we choose not to tell others when something is wrong, we instead choose to deal with it alone. Consider this: when you ask for help, it means you are trying to make yourself stronger, trying to confront whatever issues you may have. It is always better to address things early, before they become a bigger issue. We need each and every one of you, now more than ever - we need you not only physically, but also mentally fit.

As Air Force members, it is our duty to reach out and help each other in times of distress. There is not one person that can do everything, and no one can do nothing. We have to hold ourselves responsible as individuals -- and Airmen -- to take care of ourselves and one another. Do not be the person who thinks someone else will address the issue. We are all responsible to each other and to ourselves. Without taking care of each other, we will not succeed as an Air Force. When you think something may be wrong with your fellow Airmen, do not accept that they are alright because they said so. By helping one another, we ensure victory in the greatest Air Force the world has ever known.