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News > Commentary > Commentary - Taking care to take care
Taking care to take care

Posted 12/13/2010   Updated 12/13/2010 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Col. Gregory B. York
51st Medical Group commander

12/13/2010 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- As we quickly find ourselves within the holiday season, it is about the right time to stop - take a step back - and take a good look at what is going on around us. Cold weather, exercises, inspections, increased suicide rates, North Korean aggression, and many other factors have increased the stress in this theater to new levels. At times we may be living day-to-day just trying to keep our noses above the water. These challenges do not change the fact that in the 51st Fighter Wing we still need to be ready to Fight and Win Tonight! At this point, no one can overemphasize the simple importance of not only taking the time to care of oneself, but to spend just a few extra minutes to take care of taking care of others.

We all are familiar with the principles of the wingman concept and have experienced a number of educational exercises on how to be a better wingman - whether this is through briefings, down-day discussions, commander's calls, etc. - but in the end it takes putting all this education into play - or else nothing may come of it. Not only may you lose out, but many times - and sometimes most importantly - a wingman may suffer.

Taking care to take care of others requires that we all play an active role. At times, elaborating concern in a situation where you are most uncomfortable doing so is key, and when it may be needed the most. In the atmosphere of being military professionals, we very much still need to be just that. Ask that question of your subordinate, your colleague, and even more difficult - your supervisor, boss or commander, "How are you doing?" "That was difficult news from home - will you be OK tonight?" "What are you doing this weekend?" "Have you spoken with your family recently and are things going well while you are away from home?"

We far often fail to ask these simple questions because we forget - we think "they seem like they are doing OK," or it's just not in our culture to take that most difficult step and walk up to register a concern. Maybe we just think that the "other guys" wingman will take care of him.

The bottom line here is that you don't need to be a first sergeant, chief, or commander to ask these questions or voice these concerns. Taking care to take care of each other is easily found within each of the Air Force core values. As a team of professionals who strive daily to do nothing less than an outstanding job, we are all called to take on the responsibility to take care of taking care of Airmen.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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