Tag Archives: Wingman

Air Force Cycling Team takes on RAGBRAI

By Senior Master Sgt. Larry Gallo
Air Force Cycling Team

I just went back and re-read my daily post from a year ago when we were on the road to the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

Life seems to come full circle as I’ve done the same things at the same time for the last 10 years like attending RAGBRAI. The only things that change are the faces of the people sitting behind me in the van. This year, we have 17 people who are riding with us in a convoy, and only three of us have returned as riders. These people will plug into the larger group totaling 125 riders.

You can see the excitement and some anxiety on the faces of the newbies as they ponder how they will hold up during a week of riding.

Senior Master Sgt. Larry Gallo, the executive director of Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, takes a selfie with members of the Air Force Cycling Team. (Courtesy photo by Senior Master Sgt. Larry Gallo/Released)
Senior Master Sgt. Larry Gallo, the executive director of Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, takes a selfie with members of the Air Force Cycling Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Larry Gallo/Released)

Each year, I look in the rearview mirror of the van we are traveling in, and focus on the faces of the riders coming out of Texas. I feared for some of them may not being able to the finish the 500+ miles on their bicycles.

So far all of them have succeeded. This year’s group has some of the same anxieties, but I believe they will divide and conquer. Mainly because I have watched them take care of each other on training rides, and I saw how they have gotten stronger and more confident.
The first three days of RAGBRAI is the test. The first day has its challenges of climbs and the third day is the mandatory century (100 miles) day for the Air Force riders since the distance gives us more opportunities to assist other riders with maintenance and first-aid issues.

Making it through the mental dealings of forcing your body to obey you with three consecutive days of riding is a challenge.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the highlights from our trip to RAGBRAI last week.

Continue reading Air Force Cycling Team takes on RAGBRAI

Not quitting anytime soon

By Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.
Air Force Social Media Team

Practice? Check. Uniform? Check. Family, friends and supporters in the stands? Check. Oh wait, I’m not competing. I’m at Marine Corps Base Quantico for the Department of Defense Warrior Games.

Being a former athlete myself I felt the energy and competitiveness but also the preparation and skill needed to execute at a high level just like you would for battle. Well, these warriors have done that throughout the Warrior Games.

It’s often said during intramural Air Force sports that there is no rank on the field or on the court in the art of competition. I personally think that is said because it allows you to relax and just have fun and compete. Throughout my interactions with the Air Force Wounded Warrior Team, I couldn’t distinguish if I was speaking with a captain, chief master sergeant or airman basic.

One thing I can say as a former high school athlete and a non-commissioned officer in the world’s greatest Air Force is that these athletes move as one despite their challenges. They have to overcome anxiety or find the physical strength to endure a now rigorous activity that beforehand seemed as though it was second nature.

These warriors help paint a beautiful, harmonious picture of what it means to be a United States Airman and uphold the core values in and out of uniform.

Spiritual resilience

By Airman 1st Class Ariel D. Delgado
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

The holiday season is a time for joy and celebration, but some Airmen may consider it the most challenging time of the year.

Although resiliency training is an important part of our Air Force, Airmen may have a difficult time implementing the skills they learn into their lifestyles. Practicing the pillars of resiliency during the holidays, as well as throughout the year, is crucial.

Understanding the physical, social and mental pillars of resiliency can be simple, but many don’t fully comprehend the meaning of spiritual resilience. So, what is spiritual resilience?

Continue reading Spiritual resilience

‘Mommy isn’t coming home, sweetie’

By Airman 1st Class Madison Sylvester
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Airman holds a photo of her mother and of a sign warning against drinking and driving
Airman 1st Class Madison Sylvester shares the story of how her first scar became her reason for never driving while under the influence of alcohol. Sylvester is a 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs broadcaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Xavier Navarro/Released)

As a young child, you don’t think much if someone doesn’t show up when they’re supposed to because you have better, more important things to worry about, like bugs and dolls. They’re just another shape flashing around you in your own little world.

Occasionally, a child will stop and ask a question about the sky, their toys or where their parent is. The answer always seems to be, “Oh honey, they’re right over there,” and life goes on without a hitch.
Continue reading ‘Mommy isn’t coming home, sweetie’

Attacking Symptoms, Aug. 30, 2012

 

Pencil illustration attempting to visualize PTSD

By Capt. Scott Taylor
Air Force Legal Operations Agency

“I started to get really depressed and lacked the desire to do anything but sit around and play online to ‘escape’ the real world,” he said. “I was having dreams of planes crashing, the smell of burnt flesh and rotting bodies. I still tried to push through this even as my sleep started to dwindle down to a couple hours a night as I would wake up in cold sweats screaming. I decided something was wrong.”

These were some of the symptoms Staff Sgt. Collin Moore, a former air transportation craftsman, was experiencing shortly after he made a permanent change of station to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

“I would watch a commercial and start crying, then laugh, then get [upset] and then become enraged,” Moore said. “I went to the mental health clinic on base to get some advice. After a couple of sessions my counselor introduced the notion that I may be suffering from PTSD.”

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It can be triggered by exposure to a traumatic experience such as an interpersonal event like physical or sexual assault, exposure to disaster or accidents, combat or witnessing a traumatic incident.

The diagnosis did not sit well with Moore. He said he felt he had no reason to be experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Although he had deployed seven times in eight years, he still thought that only military who had been on the front lines or sweeping the streets of Iraq or Afghanistan would experience stress and trauma. For him this didn’t make sense.

“I had never considered myself a weak-minded person,” Moore said. “I accomplished everything I put my mind to, and to me, something like this could not be possible. Boy, was I ever wrong. I started to go to mental health two times a week to try and work it out and started a healthy dose of medication, however this did not work for me.”

There are many treatments for PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD, but at this time there are two types of treatments that appear to be the most effective, medicines and cognitive-behavioral therapy counseling. Different treatment options are often tried to see what will work most effectively for the individual.

Shortly after Moore’s diagnosis he rapidly got worse and his weight ballooned to 260 pounds. His desire to do anything began to dwindle. His marriage began to fall apart. The breaking point came one night when he and his wife were arguing and he wondered what the point of living was.

“After a few venomous words were spit out by both parties I went to the closet and grabbed a friend’s .45-caliber handgun, loaded one in the chamber and had my finger on a hair trigger ready to be done with all the pain,” Moore said. “I stood there shaking while my wife was crying and at that point I realized this could not be me.”

Moore was sent to University Behavioral Health in Texas for 30 days, but it took time before he realized the cause of his PTSD and how to cope with it.

“The problem was that I still did not understand why I was counting windows in buildings, freaking out in the car as a passenger and still scared to death as the driver,” Moore said. “I hated doors behind me and large crowds. I would go from what to me seemed calm, to total rage in the blink of an eye.”

While Moore was undergoing care, he went to group and individual counseling sessions where he learned that having PTSD is not a weakness, but instead a natural defense mechanism that everyone has. Unfortunately, those who suffer from PTSD cannot turn off that defense mechanism.

“Simply put, PTSD is a state of hyper-vigilance and anxiety all mixed into one,” said Moore. “There is no ‘easy-button’ for it, no magic pill to cure it or, honestly, any way to get rid of it.”

Treatment can help an individual who has PTSD feel more in control of emotions and result in fewer symptoms, according to the VA National Center for PTSD. But, even with treatment some symptoms may still be prevalent.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are generally grouped into three types: intrusive memories, avoidance and numbing, as well as increased anxiety or emotional arousal, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Intrusive memories may include flashbacks or upsetting dreams. Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing can include feeling emotionally numb, avoiding enjoyable activities, memory problems, trouble concentrating and difficulty maintaining close relationships. Some of the symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional arousal include irritability, anger, guilt, shame, trouble sleeping or self-destructive behavior.

Moore said that his mind still feels like it’s in a hostile environment, which creates a problem. Although there is no real danger, anyone who causes an uneasy feeling or added stress becomes the enemy.

“The way I see it, I have been given a toolbox and in it are different ways to cope with different situations,” Moore said. “While I am a disabled veteran, I know I will never be the person I once was, but I also feel that I could not have become the person I am now. I am down to 170 pounds, and I am working on my vocational rehabilitation to become an environmental engineer.”

The VA found that nearly 400,000 veterans across the nation, and in all branches of the military, were affected by PTSD in 2009 alone, ranking the disorder as the fourth most frequent disability connected with military service.

Psychological intervention is available in multiple venues, including medical options through primary care and mental health clinics. All VA medical centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics. There are non medical options as well, such as Military OneSource, chaplain’s office and military and family life consultants.

Early diagnosis, prompt treatment and strong social support can all increase the chance of a good outcome for those who have PTSD.

Photo: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This pencil illustration attempts to visualize PTSD. Those that suffer from this disorder are constantly trying to regain some sense of the normalcy they had before events that caused pieces of themselves to go missing. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Master Sgt. William Vance)