CSAF Updates

CSAF Focus Area #1: The Beating heart of the Air Force... Squadrons 
The first in a series of short papers Gen. Goldfein will share outlining his key focus areas. 

CSAF Focus Area #2: Strengthening Joint Leaders and Teams
... a Combined Arms Imperative 
This paper is the second in a series to share Gen. Goldfein's thinking behind three key CSAF focus areas over the next four years. 


CSAF Focus Area #3: Enhancing Multi-domain Command and Control ...Tying It All Together
This paper is the last in a series to share Gen. Goldfein's thinking behind three key CSAF focus areas over the next four years.

I call them my Wingmen

MADISON, Wis. -- I remember standing there. I was surrounded by hundreds of Airmen. We were all in formation, waiting to receive our first-ever Air Force coins.

Just like that, eight and a half weeks of intense training had come to an end.

Or was it just the beginning?

At that point in my life, I had no clue where my career would lead me. I didn't know I'd have the chance to live in and visit some of the most beautiful locations in the world. I've been fortunate enough to walk the beaches of Monterey, California, visit the historical benchmarks of our country in Washington, D.C., country two-step with some of the best while stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, visit amazing locations overseas like England and Belgium, the list goes on.

Just like that, the first five years of my Air Force career have come to end.
Not once in my career did I have to face the struggles I saw enacted onstage during our Wingman Day. Not once in my career have I personally known or experienced suicide, rape or depression.

But some of the Airmen who surround me now...have. They have had to encounter things like suicide, rape, stress, deployment struggles and depression. They have had to lean on each other to overcome these life-events.

During our base's Wingman Day, we all sat together, watching our fellow Airmen on stage re-enacting events and struggles they've seen or experienced themselves. They brought a real-world perspective to situations we are oftentimes only briefed on.
They acted out real-lives, right before our eyes. And we listened. The entire hangar filled with Airmen watched and listened.

Tears filled our eyes as one Airman spoke about a situation she encountered with her brother. She had to blatantly ask him if he was thinking about killing himself, and she had to hold it together when he said, "yes," and talk him out of it.

Another scenario they acted out was about deployments. Having to tell your daughter that, "mommy can't come out of the screen," was also a tear-jerking moment that so many watching the skits had personally experienced. Knowing your family is back home, living their daily lives without you can be troubling.

The game of baseball was used as a reference to teach Airmen about consent. That particular skit taught everyone that when you are starting a relationship, or already in one, you need to ask each other for consent before moving to the next "base," and to keep in mind that no one can make a sound decision when alcohol is involved.
Watching all of these scenarios unfold taught me that I've been extremely lucky with my experiences in the Air Force and the people I've met. I've never had to face a situation that left me vulnerable and victimized.

But what happens if I do?

This Wingman Day taught me that even if I do face one of these scenarios at some point in my career, at least I won't have to face it alone. I know that I have Wingmen who will support and guide me during any breaking point in my life.

Being a part of the Air Force, of the Air National Guard, is an amazing blessing. Just as I did five years ago when I started this journey and stood beside hundreds of Airmen, waiting to receive that coin - I still have hundreds of Airmen standing by my side. Their faces may change as the years go by, but no matter what - I know they will be there for me. There's no greater feeling than knowing no matter what struggles come my way, I have the best support system this Airman could ever ask for - I call them my Wingmen.
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