Team Vance -- take care of each other

  • Published
  • By Col Mike Callan
  • 71st Flying Training Wing
Team Vance -- Keep an eye on your Wingman!
I'm writing this week's article from Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, where I am attending the 19th Air Force Commander's Conference/Air Education and Training Command Health and Wellness Center (squadron commander selection board) and of the many important topics our Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, AETC and 19th AF are discussing, nothing seems to be hotter than suicide prevention and alcohol-related incident prevention.
Here at Vance AFB, you have heard me (and other commanders, chief master sergeants, first shirts, supervisors etc.) bring this totally avoidable scenario to your attention.
While abstaining from alcohol completely would eliminate this problem, I take a more realistic approach to the issue and offer that alcohol can be enjoyed IF it is done responsibly. By that I mean, you must have a plan -- if you intend to consume alcohol, you must have a designated driver, and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you ever get behind the wheel of a car.
Use the vast array of contacts you have at your disposal to get a responsible driver to take you home safely -- your wingman, 541-VADD, 71st Flying Training Wing Command Post (213-7384/5) your flight commander, squadron commander, taxi, local police etc., to name a few. Don't get caught being under the influence of alcohol in a public place which places you and the community at risk. And if you're the designated wingman, you must do the right thing (lives are depending on you being responsible)!
Our Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training mission does bring with it a degree of stress all of us must deal with -- through adequate sleep, exercise, proper nutrition and safely contributing to our success, I feel strongly that life's stressors can be dealt with responsibly and with much success.
Regarding suicide prevention, DoD, Air Force and AETC unfortunately continue to struggle with effective ways to combat suicide. Our comrades in arms across DoD are continuing to see soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marine Corps personnel seek fatalistic solutions to their problems, and we all must do a better job at getting them to see that there are many other ways to deal with their issues other than taking their own lives. Our outstanding medical group, under the command of Col (Dr.) John McCafferty and our life skills department led by Capt (Dr.) Matthew Miller are available and ready to help.
The discussion at Randolph AFB makes me acutely aware the co-workers (yes wingmen) are critical to this effort. You have daily interaction with your co-workers and you must be ever vigilant to some of the indications that one of your very own may be displaying. A "Leader's Guide to Suicide Prevention" has been developed and is available to all of you (in hardcopy and the Internet) to help identify and deal with actions and behaviors that your co-workers might be exhibiting. This is a serious issue for our military and I urge you all to be aware of this issue and be mindful that your sensitivity is key to preventing the next tragedy.
Finally, I very much enjoyed opening our new paintball range last weekend. Many of Team Vance showed up to participate and enjoyed the free food Carson Campbell and the Vance Club provided and I admit to being amazed at the degree of teamwork it takes to achieve victory in this sport. Yes, I had never seen a paintball range before, and after witnessing the tactics, it "ain't so bad." I encourage all of you to get on some old clothes and join the experts every Saturday or Sunday for this great activity.
I extend a special welcome to our graduation speaker for today, Col Charlie Lyon (wing commander at Hill AFB, Utah). Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule and coming to Vance AFB.
The Lyon's are close friends, and no one displays the expeditionary warrior spirit more than Colonel Lyon.
Please enjoy a safe weekend.