By SMSgt Aaron Rainer, 164th Airlift Wing Human Resource Advisor
/ Published August 07, 2011
164th Airlift Wing Memphis, TN --
The busy world we live in today can be both emotionally and physically challenging. Trying to balance the everyday challenge of work, home and personal affairs can sometimes leave you spinning in a whirlwind of stress.
Stress is something that we all experience. Whether we are dealing with a family crisis, work demands, new job, loosing a job, relationship issues, marriage, divorce, or finances, stress can take a significant toll on you. Stress can be defined as a mental, emotional, or physical strain caused by anxiety or overwork. It is important to be alert and recognize the signs of stress in yourself and others in order to find means of relieving stress. By finding ways to relieve stress you learn to more effectively manage the stress in your life.
Managing stress is all about taking charge, taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun - plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.
Members of the military have an additional stressor that may not be common to their civilian counterparts. The forever looming possibility of being deployed and away from family and love ones for an extended period of time can be a huge stressor for military members and their families. For this reason, along with the more common life stressors, every Airman should have a "Wingman". A wingman is a person who's there for you in times of need, a person who looks out for you and who can provides you with guidance and direction through the stress period. A wingman may not have all the answers to your particular issue but they may know the proper military or civilian agency that can assist you.
Some of the military and civilian agencies available to assist members and their families when everyday life become too demanding and life stresses become too overwhelming are:
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Treatment Program
American Red Cross
Employee Assistance Program
Airman & Family Readiness Center
Health & Wellness Center
Military Equal Opportunity
Mental Health Clinic
Airmen at all levels of command have a role as Wingmen. Commanders bear responsibility for the total welfare of their assigned personnel, including the physical, emotional, social and spiritual dimensions. They recognize when their people need help and know where to send them to get it. Supervisors are the first line of defense for the well being of the people they supervise. Often they are in a position to spot the first signs of trouble and are in the best position to listen and engage. All Airmen are encouraged to lead by example -- to be good Wingmen, by taking care of themselves and those around them -- and taking action when signs of stress are observed. Reference AFPAM 36-2241, figure 18.5 "Signs of Distress"
The wingman bonds we share today are a direct link to our proud heritage and yet another way we're standing on the shoulders of giants who preceded us. While we fly, fight and win, we're also obligated to treasure and foster our wingman concept, to take care of each other every day and to never forget, once an Airman always an Airman"
General T. Michael Moseley
Former Air Force Chief of Staff
Be a good Wingman. Become familiar with the many signs of stress and be prepared to step in and assist your fellow Airman in times of need.
Department of the Air Force AFP 36-2241 "Professional Development Guide"