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Wingman Saves: Command stands up program to promote crisis intervention

Regardless of rank, title or position, sometimes we all need someone in our corner.

Regardless of rank, title or position, sometimes we all need someone in our corner.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Air Force Reserve Command has implemented the Wingman Saves program, an intervention initiative aimed at recognizing Reserve Citizen Airmen who take the steps necessary to identify and assist those with at-risk behaviors. 

Lisa Matney, Headquarters AFRC community support program manager and Wingman Saves program coordinator, said there were 17 submissions the final quarter of 2020 alone. 

“The at-risk behaviors that have been identified include but are not limited to substance abuse, depression, concerns of erratic or unusual behaviors of a member, discussions of suicidal thoughts, domestic violence, being homeless, self-harm due to medical complications, and safety concerns at home,” she said. “These aren’t just small acts that people are doing to help their wingmen, these are significant items.”

Matney hopes that recognizing these “good deeds” not only empowers members to intervene into potentially harmful situations, but she also hopes it educates others on the steps necessary to identify at-risk behaviors and the resources that are available to them -- resources she says are vastly underutilized.

“We need people to utilize the resources that are at the installations to help them. The nominees recognized during the December CAB [Community Action Board] utilized both on and off base resources and ultimately got the member the help they needed,” she said. 

Matney said some wingmen intervened in potential suicides using their suicide awareness training, the ACE method, Ask, Care, Escort. The wingmen also contacted their chaplains, first sergeants or commanders to help coordinate resources and additional leadership guidance. Members affected were also referred to local medical facilities, or to the base mental health office in some situations. 

“Funding was even secured to help a member get private lodging who had a safety concern while living in their own home,” she said.   

All members should be aware of the resources available to them. If they see or hear something, be an active bystander, even if it’s by doing something small. 

“We have not established parameters on how people can be recognized by the deeds that are being done. You don’t have to just give CPR to someone to save their life,” she said. “For a family that is struggling to make ends meet, something as simple as putting food on the table can be life or death, and that is what we are trying to promote.”

To nominate someone for actions that led to the care of a member or their family, fill out the Wingman Saves “Intervention” Submission Form, located on the A1 SharePoint (CAC required), and submit it to A1.RZ.Workflow@us.af.mil.

Submissions will be routed for review. Wingmen selected for recognition will be presented with a Headquarters AFRC resiliency coin from their leadership and given a certificate of appreciation. 

For more information on the Wingman Saves program, reach out to your local Airman and Family Readiness Center. #ReserveResilient

(Matlock was assigned to the Headquarters AFRC public affairs office when he wrote this story.)