MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --
Airmen of the 931st Air Refueling Wing, the Reserve component at McConnell, paused normal duty operations to strengthen their resiliency Sept. 8, 2019, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.
According to the Air Force Resiliency website, for the last five years, suicide has been the leading cause of death among Airmen. As a result of this, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Dave L. Goldfein ordered all wings to stand down for a day to focus on Airmen’s resiliency and suicide prevention.
Despite the official call for the CSAF Resilience Tactical Pause to occur on one day for wings, the CSAF and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright stated in videos to Airmen that this is not meant to be a single day event, but to serve as a culture change that needs to take effect in the Total Force, among Leadership and their peers.
To foster this intent, the 931st held an Enlisted and Commander’s Call on the Sunday of the September UTA. The Commander’s Call followed immediately after the Enlisted Call.
During this portion, Chief Master Sgt. Takesha Williams, 931 ARW command chief, and Col. Phil Heseltine, 931 ARW commander, shared resources and routes Airmen can utilize for support, and shared their own personal experiences with resiliency in their career.
Heseltine also reminded Airmen of the permanence of suicide and its impact on the lives of those affected by those who choose to take their own life.
“That really gets right to the heart of what we’re talking about,” said Heseltine. “When an Airman decides to take their life, they’re going to be gone and you can’t bring them back. If they could see what would happen because they are no longer here, and the impact it will have on other peoples’ lives, they may be more open to seeking help.”
After the all call ended, Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 931 ARW separated in to their assigned squadrons and units to sit down and allow open discussions with their supervisors and commanders.
For any Reservists that were unable to attend the 931 ARW Resilience Tactical Pause, supervisors were encouraged to call and engage sincere conversations about connectedness, resilience and outlets for seeking help.
Though the events of the CSAF Tactical Pause at McConnell were not dictated, both Heseltine and Williams addressed to Airmen at the all calls the importance of self-care and its role in Airmen’s resiliency, which can ultimately prevent suicides in the Total Force.
“At the end of the day, we can’t take care of each other if we aren’t taking care of ourselves,” said Williams. “Invest in yourselves so that you can invest in others.”
For additional information on suicide prevention and resiliency www.resilience.af.mil, www.afrc.af.mil/HOPE/ or www.afrc.af.mil/About-Us/Airman-Family/.