Recognizing my Air Force family

  • Published
  • By Maj. Michelle Barker
  • Air Force District of Washington Operations (A3/5/9)
Sometimes in today's Air Force we get overwhelmed with Wingman days, resiliency training and other "watch out for your buddy" exercises and events. There might even be a tendency to sigh, roll our eyes and wait for the inevitable to be done with. But for as much as we work together, deploy together, and even play together, we need to remember the importance of our second family.

I have a quick story that is proof that having someone there to watch your back is a good thing!

I had just returned from a morning training flight and was preparing to do some office work when one of the boom operators in my squadron came up to me and asked if I had seen another boom operator that morning as she had called and canceled an appointment and had not yet shown up for work. Since she was normally a very prompt individual we were concerned.

We called her phone, and when no one answered we immediately went to her apartment. Her car was in the parking lot, and there was no answer at her door. We got the landlord to open it for us, and we saw her on the floor having taken too many pills.

Luckily we made it in time. Her attempt at suicide was tragic, but the important part was more than just us saving her - it was that we came together as a squadron to ensure her well-being. There was no hesitation to support her, and she went on to lead a successful Air Force career.

By being good Wingmen, we were able to notice the small changes in her normal day to day activities and help her when she needed us the most. One of the things we took away from this was that it was one of our younger boom operators that noticed her missing, and since there was an environment that allowed for him to voice his concern, we were able to save a life.

Resiliency to me has been more about being confident in your people to make the right decisions when it comes to helping each other. I am grateful everyday for my second family - my Air Force family.