Guardlife - Volume 30, No. 3
A Word from the Chief
By the New Jersey Command Chief Master Sergeant Paul
Prior to the Gulf War in 1991, the
New Jersey Air National Guard
deployed to established military
facilities throughout the world
where we felt safe most of the time.
We completed our missions successfully
and with outstanding results. The Air
Force knew what the New Jersey Air
National Guard could accomplish.
During the past few years, our deployments
have been to very austere
areas with rugged conditions. We encountered
an enemy different than before – an enemy
who will use any means to kill Americans including
women and children. Deployments have suddenly
become much more dangerous for our Airmen, leading
to the coining of a new term – Battlefield Airmen.
The senior leadership of the New Jersey Air National
Guard has the responsibility to provide the combatant
commander with trained assets for the battlefield.
Airmen must begin preparing now.
Completing your Air Force Specialty training on
time at the three, five, and seven-level is critical to
mission accomplishment. During your Air Force Specialty
training, completion of your war skills training is
a must - as you never know when higher headquarters
could deploy your Unit Tasking Code. As you continue
your training, insure you complete your Professional
Military Education as this training provides you with
supervisory and leadership skills and additional combat
training, which could be very useful on the battlefield.
As you train, prepare your family and be up front
with them about your military occupation. Make plans,
discuss possible deployments, review your family’s financial
situation and always include your children.
Also, be candid with your employer about your
membership, training requirements, training dates
and projected mobilizations and deployments. Recognize
your employer for his/her support through the
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Program.
Above all else, prepare yourself for the battlefield –
mentally, spiritually and physically. Our new “Fit to Fight” program
is more than just professional
image; it means being healthy
and in shape in order to take the fight to
the enemy while protecting oneself.
Military life is inherently stressful;
however, stress has recently been taking
its toll on our Airmen. The combat
environment, numerous deployments,
increased work hours, low manning in
critical Air Force Specialties, continuous
workloads, force restructuring, potential
base closures, family and financial issues,
employer concerns and worry about safety are
causes of stress. It is important to know where to go
for help if necessary and properly direct our Airmen
when they need assistance. Commanders, Supervisors,
and Airmen must be able to identify stressors
and assist Airmen with coping skills.
Suicide results from an inability to cope with stress.
The Air Force suicide rate is skyrocketing. Fifty-seven
Air Force personnel committed suicide in the past
year. Suicide prevention and life skills programs are
in place, however, these programs alone cannot solve
this problem. The Air Force Chief of Staff recently
authored an article entitled, “Stressed Airmen – Who’s
Your Wingman?” We as Airmen must never fail in
taking care of our wingmen on the ground and watching
out for them. Losing an Airman to suicide, an
accident or an alcohol related incident is evastating
to the rest of the unit. Such a loss may be preventable
if intervention occurs early.
Maj. Gen. Rieth always reminds our organization
that we are family, whether Airmen, Soldiers, or civilian
employees. A solid family relationship is established
through awareness, communication, teamwork, and
sensitivity. Please remember that you are never truly
alone and there are always “family” and “wingmen”
standing behind you - no matter how we feel.
In closing, as we approach the holidays, please
spend time with your families and thank them for their
support of your service. Have a safe and Happy
Holiday season and thank you for your service and
remember to Look Out For Your Wingman.