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From the Top: Are You a Good Wingman?

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, Air Force Reserve Command commander

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, Air Force Reserve Command commander

Citizen Airman/June 2014 -- Every year we ask units to conduct a Wingman Day. This is the Air Force's opportunity to pause and focus on our most important resource, our people. Many times during the small group discussions, we talk about what it means to be a good wingman. There are many positive traits one can use to describe an effective wingman. I want to offer you my own perspective on a couple of these traits.

In my view, there are two basic elements to being a good wingman: knowing and doing. To be a good wingman requires looking in the mirror and asking how you can be a better you! Knowing how to achieve an optimum balance in your life helps you be a healthier Airman and, in turn, a more capable wingman. I encourage you to use the four pillars of comprehensive Airman fitness -- physical, mental, spiritual and social -- as a guide toward developing a better version of you.

"Knowing" also involves cultivating relationships with others. Get to know your fellow Airmen and learn what motivates them. Know their good days, so you can recognize the bad ones. Every one of our Citizen Airmen has a story, so be a good listener. By knowing ourselves and each other, you will be better positioned to assist those in need.

The other basic element to being a good wingman is "doing." Doing is about taking action. A good adage that applies here is, "It's not purely what you know; it's what you do with what you know." Lead with your actions by asking for help when you need it.

Develop goals based on the four pillars and pursue them for individual improvement. Look out for others, especially in light of the recent uptick in suicides. If you see someone in a crisis, have the courage to ask about his or her well-being. We should be mindful of how others are doing around us. ... not just on Wingman Day, but all year long.

This year, the theme for Wingman Day is "Finding the Good." Many times, to find the good, you may need to view particular circumstances differently. Look for the good, especially during difficult personal situations. Always remember the good things in your life. We all have things that are special and meaningful to us.

Additionally, by helping others find the good, you may help people bounce back from hardships they may encounter. To see more on this topic, I invite you to read the stories that begin on Page 18.

Our team is made stronger through unity and strengthening of our members. Wingman Day is our chance to do just that!

Thanks for all you do!