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Don't let deployments catch you by surprise

PATRICK AFB, Fla -- -- Deployments rarely catch us by surprise. Typically, we have time to react, adjust our thinking and formulate a survival plan. Those remaining behind must adjust, yet we often simply react with little or no forethought given to our survival plan.

Each member of the wing may be impacted as we watch someone deploy; care for a deployed member's spouse or shoulder a co-worker's duties along with their own.

As the operations tempo of the Air Force increases, many members feel overwhelmed. Survival requires a re-focusing to push back the "fog of war" and allow for deliberate actions and choices.

Three words can make a difference: attitude, direction and teamwork.

Attitude is a powerful factor and even more important during deployments when those left behind to maintain the mission and readiness for war. Positive attitudes allow greater accomplishments than negative ones. It comes in many forms. The class clown brings laughter and fun to what otherwise might be drudgery in everyday situations. The person who believes "many hands make a light load" gets everyone home sooner and leaves a positive impact. The member who tackles the job normally done by a deployed co-worker shows great attitude.

Direction is applying effort and positive attitude to the task at hand. The wing's mission is to assure access to the high frontier and support global operations. While everyone must be in synch with the mission, each group, squadron and individual person's responsibilities are substantially different. And that is where the rubber meets the road: each team member must understand how their job contributes to their unit's critical tasks.

Teamwork is all service branches working toward a singular national objective. Teamwork may also be one unit aiding another as they ready payloads, boosters and space vehicles. Or it may be someone reaching out to another who needs to vent; or someone acting as a designated driver. Taking care of each other during stressful times is the starting place for teamwork. Pulling together in a cohesive manner is the finishing touch.

As wing members continue to deploy, we must maintain the mission and care for our people.

There will be a greater sense of camaraderie; the satisfaction of contributing to the mission; and a sense of accomplishment stemming from investing in individuals. Surviving deployments requires a kit jam-packed with tools, three of which are essential for success: attitude, direction and teamwork!