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Wingman day reminds Airmen to get personal

ANDREWS AFB, Md. -- Airmen base-wide will participate in the Air Force-wide endeavor to reduce the residual effects of stress and anxiety on Airmen, and to rejuvenate Airmen in the fight against suicide and other detrimental behavior will happen Thursday here. 

The day, which is designated as Wingman Focus Day, will be launched with a unit commander's call. However, activities are also scheduled to focus on helping each Airman realize they have the ability to be someone else's wingman. Team building and camaraderie activities are on the docket to drive home the idea that each Airman should look to find some teammate who could use their help.

"This is a time for the entire Andrews team to concentrate on developing the interpersonal coping skills necessary to combat stress in the work or home environment," said Col. Paul R. Ackerley, 316th Wing commander.

One of the most important elements of the day is the feedback effort that commanders intend to use in developing a long-term plan to combat the dangerous effects of stress on Airmen at home or deployed, said Santiago Velázquez, 316 WG Wingman Support coordinator and 316 WG Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. Commanders want to see the top five things that render undue tension on people here, so they can try to find ways to reduce the strain stemming from the work environment.

"Stress can be the catalyst to a range of excessive behaviors if a person does not have the adequate abilities to cope with the situation," said Mr. Velázquez. The feedback on the stressors will give the commanders another tool to use in building a comprehensive plan to combat workplace anxiety."

The Wingman Focus Day concept was started by the former Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. John P. Jumper. It's an attempt to place special emphasis on stress-related issues during the month of November in order to reinvigorate the idea that each Airman has a responsibility to look after those serving beside them and help them through tough times.

As non-acceptable personal behaviors and mishap numbers began to rise, General Jumper saw this as a key time to get Airmen to focus on each other.

"We are causing ourselves more harm than the enemy," said the general. "We must do a better job of looking after one another -- be a better wingman."

Mr. Velázquez said the members of the wing should take the lessons of Wingman Focus Day to heart and apply them on a daily basis.

"We need to encourage people to get personal," he said. "Don't lecture, don't talk, just look for the signs of distress; listen for the help cry of your fellow wingmen and act with purpose!"

"We are so high-tech and low-touch these days that our relationships are suffering," the Wingman Focus Day coordinator continued. "A wingman must be close to be effective, and that's what we want to get people to understand. You have to interact with people on a personal level in order to save each other from the dangerous buildup of stress." 

(Courtesy of 316th Public Affairs)
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