LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. –
How well do we know our Airmen?
When broken down into moments of sincere interaction, a 40-hour week lends little time for colleagues, supervisors, commanders to analyze the sincerity of the phrase, "I'm fine."
The Air Force mission demands we fly high, deploy onward, and maintain military standards, while enduring increased ops tempos and decreased manning resources; for some, those demands may be the very things weighing upon their shoulders as they lay to rest at night.
"I'm fine," they say as we place another task on their already overflowing plate of responsibilities.
"I'm fine," they say with a fake smile so we cannot see them crumbling inside.
"I'm fine," they say, but what they really want to say is, "Help me."
Our Airmen need more than small talk in passing; they need approachable leaders in whom they feel taking down the facades and sharing the burdens that keep them tied up inside. They need mentors to show them how to meet mission demands while still maintaining peace. They need Wingmen who will make the phone call for help when life's burdens are too much to bear.
While the mission demands our attention, we cannot forget our Airmen's needs. Commanders, schedule monthly squadron morale days offer them a venue to engage leadership casually and escape mission demands for a brief period. Supervisors, get out from the behind the desk to engage them; schedule weekly lunches or morning chat sessions to discuss the day's endeavors and ensure the lines of communication remain open. Wingmen, your responsibility goes beyond formalities. You will most likely be the listening ear, the mentor, and friend in the time of need. You must be willing to push alliances aside if the situation is beyond your control.
If we do not know our Airmen, how will we know if they truly are "fine?"