Take care of self, each other

  • Published
  • By Col. Douglas Lamberth
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing vice commander
Since my family and I arrived at McConnell, I have been very impressed by the great people of Team McConnell and the surrounding communities.

I have witnessed how you superbly generate aircraft day in and day out. I am astounded at how you deployed to a forward location in our most recent nuclear operational readiness exercise, making it look routine.

Additionally, I have heard from deployed leadership about the incredible job that our folks are doing in support of the warfighter at our various deployed locations. I have also had a chance to visit with many of the Friends of McConnell and I have seen how proud they are to have this base as their showcase to the rest of the world.

Fortunately I have had the pleasure to meet several of your families and I continue to be amazed at how supportive they are to our mission. All told, my family and I are extremely blessed to a part of this great team.

McConnell's mission is critical to enabling the rapid projection of power over global distances and maintaining a virtually indefinite "presence" over an adversary. Considering the value and diversity of our mission, we are called upon often for support; thus, we are busy. As such, I have quickly realized the importance of one of our three priorities: Ready Airman (and Ready Families). These are not just words, but Ready Airman and Ready Families are absolutely integral to the success of this base.

Being "Ready" means being fully prepared to carry out the mission. Being fully prepared means being ready physically, socially, mentally and spiritually. Our responsibilities for personal readiness are easily definable. Being ready is absolutely a personal responsibility. Being a good wingman, however, is sometimes a bit nebulous. A good wingman means stepping in when our fellow Airman needs help, even when they aren't asking for it. A good wingman can be a friend, a supervisor, or a commander.

The wingman concept also applies to families. It is our duty to ensure our families know that we are here for them and, more importantly, being a good wingman means knowing where to turn for offers of assistance.

So where can we turn?

Team McConnell has many superb helping agencies that form a strong support network. Hopefully by now you have heard of McUS, or McConnell Unified Services. It is a team chartered to focus our community resources to enhance our Airmen and families well being, balance and resiliency.

It includes the Airman and Family Readiness Center, Family Advocacy, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Mental Health, the Health and Wellness Center and the chaplains, among others.

These are agencies are here to help, with no stigma attached. They are here to help save careers and maintain the health of our Airmen and families.

At the risk of sounding negative, we have seen an uptick in the number of alcohol related incidents over the past several months, as well as a number of relationship issues. This has a direct negative effect on the mission and we need to turn this trend.

As mentioned earlier, Team McConnell is busy. We are busy exercising, preparing to carry out our high-priority nuclear support mission. We are busy preparing for next year's Operational Readiness Inspection. We have a significant deployed presence in Southwest Asia and other parts of the world, and we are busy with the challenges of our normal day-to-day business.

What often comes with being busy is stress -- stress for our Airman and for our families. Stress, if not dealt with properly, can lead to other issues and irrational decisions. How we deal with it is what matters. Sometimes we all need help coping and must be personally willing to ask for it. But often, we just need to be good wingmen and step in and offer it.

As we end the summer and approach the holidays, I offer this challenge. If you personally experience feelings of stress -- seek help. Ask for it from your supervisor, commander, coworker, friend or one of our McUS professionals.

There will be no negative repercussions. I also ask that we all remain vigilant within our community and be good wingmen. If your fellow Airman, or a family member, is showing signs of stress speak up, step in, and help them get the help they need. By doing so, you may save a career, a family or a life and again, there will be no negative repercussions.
Being Ready Airmen and Families is essential to the mission and the great people of Team McConnell are no doubt our most critical and valuable resource, a resource that needs to be protected. Ask for help, offer assistance and most importantly, utilize the community resources that are available. You will be thankful you did.