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122nd Fighter Wing participates in Winter Wingman Day

122nd Fighter Wing Unit Patch

122nd Fighter Wing Unit Patch

March 5, 2011 -- Airman wellness and resiliency, as well as having a great wingman, is imperative in enduring the tough challenges we face in the Air National Guard. We are forced to maintain strength and composure while serving both the duties of being a civilian and serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Airmen of all ranks, ages and backgrounds are faced daily with situations big and small that test their strength.

All of the 122nd Fighter Wing was brought together for a Winter Wingman Day in Maxwell Hall, the dining facility, auditoriums and conference rooms across the base. The briefings were broadcasted from Maxwell Hall to other areas on base televised via closed caption television. Speaking to the Airmen were Col. David Augustine, Commander of the 122nd Fighter Wing, Sydney Davidson, Indiana State Director of Psychological Health, David Swineheart, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the 122nd Fighter Wing Director of Psychological Health and members from the safety office. Wingman Day was directed by Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt III, Director of the Air National Guard, in response to current issues with high suicide rates and unnecessary vehicle fatalities.

Swineheart started with some staggering statistics. In deaths among National Guard members only six percent of those attribute to aircraft mishaps, while 40 percent are related to vehicle crashes, and a staggering 30 percent are by suicide. He went on to describe that if we are not fit in the "four pillars of resiliency", that we are more susceptible to poorly handling negative situations, in comparison with a person who is more fit.

Resiliency is the positive capacity for people to cope with stress. The four pillars of resiliency are social fitness, physical fitness, spiritual fitness, and family. A deficiency in one of these areas can leave each and every one of us vunerable to the negative aspects of stress. Swineheart and his counterparts briefed on each of these areas, giving the Airmen the awareness they need to evaluate themselves and others.

Davidson informed the audience about social fitness. She emphasized to each person to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and to remove or distance themselves from unhealthy relationships. She also touched on the importance of effective communication and what it means in relationships. Poor communication skills have a negative effect on our relationships.

Tech. Sgt. Sean Gorman, a competitor of the Ironman in Louisville, Ky. in August 2009, explained the importance of physical fitness and how it affects our lives. "Being physically fit helps reduce stress and increases positive endorphins released in your body, making you feel better," said Gorman. He also challenged members of the 122nd Fighter Wing to consider competing in the Optimist Triathlon in 2011 as motivation to get into better shape and better our lives.

Spiritual fitness is also key in having resilience, says Chaplain Capt. Larry Loree. Strong spiritual fitness will help you to persevere through tough times in life by having a spiritual connection with something greater than yourself.

Swineheart spent a good amount of time speaking to the importance of family, and its role in resiliency. He described family as another support group that we have in helping to deal with issues. Swineheart spoke of four things that Airmen should concentrate on to become stronger individuals. The King will be concerned with the well being of his family; the Warrior will protect the family; the Wise Sage will teach the children life skills; the Lover will be a communicator of love, nurture, and intimacy. In the same way, the Queen should also strive to be concerned with the well being of her family, and as a "Mamma Bear" to protect them. She possesses the same roles in regards to Wise Sage and Lover.

Augustine highly emphasized safety and enhancement in the Wing functions, as well as highly encouraged the use of feedback as a two-way street so that feedback can not only be communicated down the chain, but also upward toward leadership.

Lt. Col. Craig Ash, 122nd Fighter Wing Director of Safety, spoke of the importance of motorcycle safety while Senior Master Sgt. Larry Meadows, 122nd Fighter Wing Safety and Occupational Health Manager, spoke of ground safety, particularly distracted driving. Meadows shared a personal story of the negative effect of texting and driving, telling of his first-hand witness of a high-speed car crash involving a distracted driver. He also shared a touching, disturbing, and eye-opening video, produced and shared by AT&T, called, "The Last Text". The video details the avoidable deaths of three teenaged individuals who wrecked their vehicles while texting and driving; the teens either died or were left with permanent physical dysfunction. The video highlighted the last text message that was sent and how unimportant, for lack of better words, the messages were. They included "Where u at", "lol", "yeah" and "where r".

After this group lecture, airmen later were sent back to their individual shops where they had small group breakout sessions where they further discussed the importance of having a Wingman.