Being a better wingman for yourself and others

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. David Watson
  • 9th Medical Group
Yeah, we've all heard it a dozen times: Be a good wingman. But have you ever taken time out to think about what it really means to be a good wingman? When folks hear about being a good wingman they think primarily in terms of taking care of a fellow Airman in need. In the simplest of terms, it means looking out for their team members and assisting or intervening if necessary. It also means not being a passive observer but taking action to avoid an unpleasant outcome. This would mean driving a member home or letting them stay at your place when you know they've been drinking too much. It also would mean taking the time to help someone when you know they are going through rough times. Doing this helps the member, their family and ultimately the mission.

In our unit, we consider ourselves wingmen to all members, military, civilian and our contractors. Being available in someone's time of need is important regardless of what uniform we wear to work each day. We recognize that losing just one individual of our team will have an immediate impact on our ability to complete the mission.

Another key component of being a good wingman is taking care of ourselves. In the short term it means asking for help when we need it, both on and off duty. Doing this is really the easiest step toward solving a problem and this option is always available, 24/7, every day of the year; you just have to reach out and ask. Your wingman doesn't have to be a certain individual either. It can be any member of your unit. However, I can guarantee you that if call your first sergeant in the middle of the night, you will get the help you need. It's the safety net we all have as military members. Program their phone number into your cell phone. A little preparation now will go a long way to help you later if the need ever arises.

The long term component involves thinking about your own goals and aspirations and how you are going to get there. From the mental perspective this might mean enrolling in college and getting your degree. We've got some great benefits as military members so take advantage of them. We also need to complete our professional military education as we advance in rank in order to develop ourselves in our profession. For the physical side, each member needs to develop their own physical training program and tailor it to their needs to develop a regular habit. Physical fitness is now a condition of employment in the Air Force. We must embrace it and make it a part of our lives. And finally, rounding out the list is spiritual development. Putting time and effort into setting goals and developing yourself will help round you out as a better Airman in a better position to advise others who are in need and help you succeed in the Air Force. Overall, you will be a better wingman!