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SECAF encourages embracing wingman concept

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- In a recent letter to Airmen, Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Michael Wynne, focused on suicide prevention and looking out for each other as Wingmen.

Since the start of the fight on terrorism nearly eight-years-ago, pressures and demands of consistent deployments have taken a toll on Airmen globally. According to Secretary Wynne, too often pressures end in suicide and the Air Force has lost more Airmen to suicide than direct enemy action.

"With so many Airmen deployed and with so many others pushed to the breaking point, it is vital that we all understand that we are not alone," Secretary Wynne said. "It is up to us to look out for one another. We must make every effort to understand the people around us, to talk to them and to get to know them on a personal level. We must treat our people with respect and demonstrate integrity and empathy up and down the line."

The secretary mentioned several preventative programs available to Airmen if they are feeling overwhelmed or even contemplating suicide. He suggests talking to a fellow wingman, a chaplain, family counselor, day care provider, or simply a friend. He also encourages each Airman to understand the signs of stress and depression to empower ourselves to notice when help is needed.

"Many suicides can be prevented," the secretary said. "By working together, we can all make a difference and save lives. It is the responsibility of every Airman to be a good wingman and to reach out to those in need."

Secretary Wynne's full Letter to Airmen along with a checklist for suicide prevention can be found in the Library section of the Air Force Link.