Tag Archives: DOD

Holiday greetings from the Air Force Chief of Staff

 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and his wife Suzie sent out a special holiday message Dec. 7, 2011, to Airmen and their families serving around the world.

During the 29-second video, the Schwartzes spoke about their appreciation and understanding of the sacrifices service members make during the holidays.

“This holiday season, Suzie and I are truly grateful for every service member and their families, and their role in preserving our collective liberty,” the general said.

Have you received a holiday greeting from your servicemember? Tell us about it.

Left behind

By Senior Airman Alexandria Mosness
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A 4-year old girl with shoulder-length, light-brown hair and big brown eyes sat on the edge of the countertop with her legs dangling over the side, swinging back and forth. A strong man three times her size with hardworking hands touched her gently, and looked at her with tears streaming down his weathered face. “Mommy is not coming back. Mommy is in heaven with Grandpa,” he told her as his voice cracked. The brave little girl reached her tiny hand up to his sad face and wiped away his tears, as she said, “Don’t worry Daddy, it will be okay.”

But it was not okay; her mother, my aunt, had committed suicide only days earlier.Suicide prevention

Everyone has heard about suicide, but many people may not think it will affect them. But I guarantee if you ask around, it hits closer to home than you might think.

Yet, we still believe it won’t be someone we love. I didn’t think I would ever hear the news that my aunt Maria, who was only in her mid-30s, would take her own life.

I was a freshman in high school when I turned around at lunch one day with a smile still fresh on my face from a joke I overhead, when I saw my father’s pain-stricken face. I knew right then something was very wrong.

From then on the moments are a blur. When I look back, all I sense is a heavy dread and pain, a pain that tears deeply each time I look at my little cousin Olivia. Although Maria committed suicide about 8 years ago, it still breaks my heart to think about the life she missed out on.

She, like many people who commit suicide, dealt with depression. The one thing I wish I could have shown her was her funeral and all the people who sat in the pews crying. I wish she would have been able to see her 4-year-old daughter walk down the aisle of the big church, side-by-side with the coffin, and lay a rose on top of her mother’s lifeless body. I wish she would have felt the love of those who cared for her dearly, and those that might have been able to pull her off of that edge.

But my wishes are just that… wishes.

What I don’t want is for you to be the one wishing. Once a loved one takes his or her life, we have no control. We are the survivors, and we are the ones who must keep going.

From the time I began high school and throughout my military career, I have been inundated with computer-based training modules, classes and countless Airmen days on the topic of suicide.

But even with all of this knowledge and available resources, the Air Force battles this issue. Some might not think it can happen to them or someone they know,

So, what can we do to help those in need?

Many may think it is cliché, but I always smile at everyone. I always think especially since I am a survivor, what if that one act brings them back. Maybe it is not that simple, but kindness does go a long way.

We are always told to be good wingmen. This goes hand-in-hand with improving our resiliency. When you see your co-worker down or acting different, pull him or her aside. See what is wrong. A lot of times, all people need is someone to talk to.

If someone comes and tells you of a plan to hurt him or herself, don’t laugh it off. The person is reaching out to you. Listen and then help find the assistance he or she may need.

Social media is huge these days. We may take what our friends say online as a joke or not take them seriously, but if you start noticing a trend or something that makes you raise your eyebrows, do something about it. Heck, it might not be anything, but how would you feel if you found out later that person had harmed him or herselves? You truly can save lives.

There will always be challenges in this world, but if we all take that extra step and treat people like valued human-beings, maybe we can stop losing our Air Force family to this dreadful thing.

I know that if we had seen the warning signs, my little cousin would not be walking around on Easter grasping a picture of her mother because she missed her, but instead holding her hand and celebrating the joyous moments in life.

Photo: (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)

Claim Your Money by October 21st

President Obama addressed active servicemembers and veterans, who experienced the “stop-loss” program, to remind them to claim the money they deserve. Between the dates of September 11, 2001 and September 30, 2009, military members who were involuntarily extended or whose retirement was suspended are entitled a retroactive payment of $500 a month for each month of extension.

“You served with honor. You did your duty. And when your country called on you again, you did your duty again. Now, it’s time to collect the special pay that you deserve,” said President Obama.

There is no catch to this BUT there is a deadline of October 21, 2010. All you have to do is fill out a DD Form 2944 and follow the instructions in the form according to your service branch. For more information, go to http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0710_stoploss/.

Remember, the deadline for this is October 21, 2010. It is your money, so go get it. If you have friends who might be eligible for stop lost special pay, let them know about the deadline and what they need to do to file a claim.

Communicate and Check For Understanding

Maj. Gen. SargeantIn these difficult economic times, organizations are looking for ways to be effective and efficient among seemingly overwhelming changes. Within the Department of Defense, Secretary Gates has called for organizations to allocate resources wisely, stating that, “we must significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our business operations.” One DOD organization that is embracing efficiency at full speed is the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center headquartered at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, N.M. To facilitate buy in from employees during a period of change, simple communication is a must as Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant explains in his new “Commander’s Corner” commentary “Communication: Leadership Responsibility 24/7.”

One of the first steps in the change process was that leaders at AFOTEC needed to be on the right page in order to communicate the changes, and this involved providing them with the right tools and messages. This gave them the understanding and buy in they needed to discuss changes with their employees. Leaders and subordinates are held responsible for communicating and seeking understanding throughout the change process.

Maj. Gen. Sargeant emphasizes that in order for an organization to survive changes, leadership needs to involve employees. Communicating forthcoming changes is just the first step, but it doesn’t ensure that transitions will go smoothly. Taking the extra step of making sure that employees understand is crucial for sustainable change. Staff must not only know what changes are taking place but must also know why change is necessary and what their role is through it all.

To read more about how AFOTEC is communicating change, see Maj. Gen. Sargeant’s complete article in the Kirtland Air Force Base Nucleus here and here.

Warrior Games Open

WarriorGamesThe Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote on his official blog, and recorded a video, about the incredible spirit he’s witnessed at the Warrior Games, a joint effort between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Department of Defense. The Warrior Games are played by injured servicemembers who have all overcome their injuries to excel at a variety of sports. You can read more about his views and the Warrior Games HERE.

Visit DoD Live for updates all week.