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Watch out for your wingmen this season

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. John Richardson
  • 466th Air Expeditionary Squadron first sergeant
The holiday season is upon us. I know it may not seem like it without the constant barrage of Christmas sale commercials and 24/7 playing of Christmas carols on the radio, but it is here and with everyone being so far away from their friends and family, this can be a tough time.

Everyone will find one way or another to cope with the separation our deployments bring during this time of year. Many of you are probably like me -- you'll stay busy and keep your mind focused on the day-to-day tasks to help you push through.

Regardless of what you are doing, don't get so focused on it that you are neglecting those around you because, even if you are handling the stress, the person next to you may not be. Who better to know if someone is succumbing to stress than those who work day in and day out with them? Take time to ensure your wingman is okay. Observe them. Engage them. Pay attention to their verbal as well as nonverbal communication. If you find someone who isn't doing so well, make sure you are there for them. Spend time with them. Engage them in productive activities. The biggest message to get across to them is that they are not alone in their stress and their thoughts of home.

However, don't feel like you have to go solo when taking care of your wingman. If you find someone just isn't receptive to your aid or that he may need more help than you can provide, don't hesitate to contact your supervisor, first sergeant or commander. They can all help you find a helping resource.

Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, has a full range of support services. They can talk to a chaplain, the combat stress team, the mental health office, or any number of individually run support groups in the plethora of sister service units.

We all know the line from the Airman's Creed, "I will never leave an Airman behind." That holds true not just on the battlefield, but for our everyday in-garrison duties as well. Together we can ensure that our wingmen are not left behind, that those who need help making it through a stressful time get that help.