Reach out; before they take action

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton, Jr.
  • 45th SW commander
The past ten days have been hard for the wing and me because we lost a valued member of our wing prematurely. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
It's times like these when we are reminded how crucial people are to us both at work and at home.

As leaders and as wingmen, we all try to do all we can to take care of our people. We get them to training. We teach them to do things the "military" way. We hammer home things like personal accountability, job responsibility and the importance of physical fitness.
Now I have one question for you. Do you really get to know the people with whom you work? Really?

Do you know what they enjoy doing in their down time? Do you know anything about their family situation? Do you know if they are in financial trouble? Do you know what makes them tick?

If you don't, then you need to make it your mission to do an "eyeball check" with those around you, especially during these trying times.

For some, sadly, the answer to trying times has been suicide. This is something we are doing all we can to stop because each person's life is important to countless people who feel an unimaginable loss when someone's life ends.

I'm sure we have all read that many service members are often hesitant to admit "they are having issues." They sometimes confuse asking for help for depression and other things with being weak.

They may be thinking this kind of admission will hurt their performance reports, their reputation, and maybe their "standing" in the Shark community.

Well I'm here to tell you it won't. But don't just take it from me.

Army Gen. Carter Ham, one of the Army's 12 four-star generals, went public a few months ago with his battle against Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after an incident on a base in Iraq left him easily startled and struggling to get a good night's sleep.

The general, brought up in the military's culture of never going to sick call unless you're close to your death bed, sought help from his base chaplain. He has been reported to say it helped him "get realigned."

In other words, he was smart enough to "reach out" when he needed help. The "why" - or whatever "triggered" anyone to feel this way is not the important issue.

Because "problems" - like beauty - are often in the eyes of the beholder. It's your job. It's my job . It's everyone's job to try and identify those issues before they get out of hand.

Let's all be good Wingmen and make sure we are there for our total Air Force family. As always, thanks for all you do.