Weathering the storm

  • Published
  • By Al Strait
  • 21st Space Wing Staff Agencies director
I recently read an article which talked about how the seasons change. We enjoy the freshness of spring, the sunny days of summer, the changing of the leaves in the fall and snowy days of winter. The article also pointed out we all have seasons in our lives. Some days are sunny and everything falls into place. Other days may not be as sunny and we sometimes wonder why everything is falling apart.

In looking back at 2013 we all had our challenges. We dealt with sequestration, furloughs, budget cuts, fires, floods and many other items in our personal lives. As we transition to 2014, we have already seen some challenges in dealing with force retention boards, some budget concerns and our own personal challenges. Regardless of the challenge, we all have to have a plan and not be afraid to ask for help when needed.

I have been very impressed in discussions with some of the Airmen who are impacted by the retention boards. In talking to these Airmen, they are excited about new opportunities, the chance to go back to school, start their own businesses. They have a plan and are not afraid of the future.

Regardless of the storm you are facing, just remember you are not alone. As I have written before in other commentaries, the base has a host of helping agencies who are standing by to help. Their sole purpose is to help our Airmen and their families. For example, if you need someone to talk to, provide some ideas for direction in life, or to help with any of the unique challenges military life can throw our way, such as reintegration, deployment issues or couples communication, the military and family life consultant is ready to listen and provide advice. Call them at (719) 651-0094. Consultations are free and anonymous. Do you hear the term "helping agencies" but are still uncertain who to turn to for advice? Contact the community support coordinator at (719) 556-6768. That role is in place specifically to connect our military community with the wealth of resources available on- and off-base. I would encourage anyone who needs help to get support from available resources.

As we focus on our own personal challenges there are a couple of things we can all do to see how we are weathering the storm. First, we can do a self-check of our attitudes. Being focused, dedicated and disciplined will make the difference in how you weather the storm. We are fortunate when we are part of a circle of co-workers, friends and family who cooperate and work together. I am sure all of us have heard the term "wingman." When we all work together and take care of each other then we all are lifted up and the mission gets done. Sounds a little utopian, but it works.

I was able to witness wingmen in action as I participated in the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands, N.M., March 23. An article in the March 20 Space Observer gave a run down on the event and highlighted some members of Team Pete who were preparing for the event. In completing the course I was able to talk to Master Sgt. Ryan Devine, 721st Mission Support Group first sergeant, who mentioned the months of training that went into preparing for the event and the camaraderie he built with his team members -- being a wingman and taking care of them.

It was also inspiring to me to see Chief Master Sgt. Mark Hammack from the 721st Security Forces Squadron humping his 35-pound pack through the famous "sand pit" -- weathering his own personal storm at that time.

Also, hats off to the team of chiefs from Team Pete who paid honor to Chief Suzette Cherry who recently passed away - to me the ultimate wingmen.

Other members of the 21st, 721st, and 10th Security Forces Squadrons who took part in the march included Chief Master Sgt. Todd Simmons, Senior Master Sgts. Corey Miller and Shadd McKee, Master Sgt. Ian Mirkes, Tech. Sgts. Joel Beuke and Phillip Mendoza, Staff Sgt. Danny Kuertz, Senior Airman Raul Francisco-Gonzalez, and Airmen 1st Class Keith Crum and Luciano Rosano. You had your own storm to weather and I would love to tell your story -- but from what I hear you all pushed and pulled each other to finish the course. Well done.

Finally, from the more than 6,000 marchers there were many other examples of those who helped others along the course -- not seeking fame, not seeking words of praise, just being a good wingman. Yes it may sound a little utopian, but as I stated before it works and can work for each of us as we weather any storm.

Just surviving our storms is not enough. Each of us can overcome the challenges by using the resources available to us, by sharing our talents, and by using our mentoring skills to build our team and team members up for success.