Chief's View: Well-being of our warriors the No. 1 priority in every decision we make

Chief Master Sgt. Dwight Badgett, command chief master sergeant, Air Force Reserve Command

Chief Master Sgt. Dwight Badgett, command chief master sergeant, Air Force Reserve Command

Citizen Airman/Feb 10 -- Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget why we exist as the Air Force Reserve Command. We concentrate on our own challenges and don't recognize the importance of finding solutions to problems that directly affect our Airmen and their families.

First and foremost, our mission is to organize, train and equip to be warriors, and we do that as well as anyone on Earth. There are almost 6,000 Air Force Reservists deployed around the world today, and this has been the case for most of the past eight years. Airmen are deployed to many locations to carry out the orders of our commander in chief and to protect our freedoms.

A growing number of these requirements dictate that we perform tasks we might think are outside our traditional Air Force core competencies, but they're really not. We are now trained to be warriors in basic military training and continue that focus through recurring contingency training to stay proficient and prepared.

Our warriors attend additional pre-deployment training for Airmen who may be required to work "outside the wire" during a deployment, but we should ensure the training is relevant and productive. As an expeditionary Air Force, we must always see ourselves as warrior teammates with our sister services.

There is no better example of a warrior than our own Tech. Sgt. Tony Campbell. Tony was an explosive ordnance disposal craftsman in the 932nd Civil Engineer Squadron at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. He was a true professional, both technically and militarily. He served on active duty and in the Air National Guard in two states before becoming a Reservist and law enforcement officer with the city of Cincinnati.

Tony was killed Dec. 15 in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device. There are many parts to the story of Tony's life, but in the most basic sense, he was an American hero who gave his life doing what he loved in the defense of his country.

We owe Tony and the rest of our nation's warriors more than we can repay. How do you put a value on the sacrifices and dedication of people who voluntarily put their lives on the line for each and every one of us? The answer is you can't. But we can work hard to ensure we provide the necessary tools and training to make our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen successful as they carry out their mission.

As an Air Force and nation, we should always consider the well-being of our warriors in every decision we make and everything we do. Whether it is improving pay and benefits, purchasing adequate equipment, providing world-class training or something as basic as making sure our Airmen have the proper uniform items, we can never forget that what's best for our warriors should always drive our decisions.

Unfortunately, we don't have an unlimited budget, and sometimes that means we have to make tough decisions on where precious resources are used. As we make these decisions, I commit to you that accomplishing the mission and taking care of Airmen and their families are at the core of your leadership's decision-making process.

Current programs are designed to support our returning warriors. Yellow Ribbon Reintegration, Tricare for Guard and Reserve members, professional mental and emotional health care, and many more programs are designed to support our warriors. These programs were initiated and should be used to improve the lives of our service members, no matter what their status. We must all work every day to ensure the basic needs of our Airmen are being met, to include necessary medical care when returning from deployments.

Each of these corporate efforts is critical in supporting the warrior, and your Air Force works continuously to protect the welfare of our Airmen. But, there is no replacement for taking care of each other, because you know your wingman better than anyone else. You are our most valuable resource when it comes to caring for your warrior teammates. You see subtle changes in behavior or attitude that can signal much deeper issues.

These situations are not unique to those who have or will deploy. Daily life presents challenges that can sometimes seem more than we can bear. I challenge you to assume the responsibility to be that wingman we all want to be and watch out for each other. I take that responsibility very seriously, and I know you will do the same in everything you do as a Citizen Airman.