WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio — The Wingman Intervention Program captures instances where bystanders take action to keep themselves and their Wingmen safe by recognizing warning signs, potentially dangerous situations or inappropriate behaviors.
In a recent note to the staff, Maj. Gen. Carl Schaefer, Air Force Materiel Command deputy commander, encouraged leaders at all levels to ‘promote this initiative’ within their units. He encouraged them to be intensely aware of situations where their people recognized potentially at-risk behaviors and intervened in a positive way.
“The significance of this is that we are an Air Force of pro-active Airmen who don’t sit on the sidelines as by-standers, but rather are pro-active in looking out for the wellness of ourselves as well as our fellow Airmen,” said Mark Burton, violence prevention integrator for Hill Air Force Base. “When we see acts of interpersonal violence we need to act to stop those types of actions.”
Burton said a good Wingman connects with his or her fellow Airman to help create a resilient workforce.
“We do that by creating a work place of mutual respect, kindness and when necessary intervention to stop unwanted actions that threaten the fabric of who we are as an Air Force.” Burton said. “We want to recognize those that intervene on another’s behalf, although we realize that individuals are not doing it for the recognition, we also know that by recognizing those that have displayed such heroism, what we are creating is a culture by which we strengthen the behaviors we want and at the same time help to eradicate the behaviors that we don’t want in our Air Force.”
On an Air Force base, Airmen might witness a potentially dangerous or problematic situation, and since they are there, may be able to assist. They are seeing situations where intervening to protect their fellow Airmen, military or civilian, would be appropriate. Some examples might be alcohol abuse, bullying, suicide ideation, safety mishaps or sexual assault.
A change from how the program operated in the past allows Wingmen who take action and intervene to be highlighted for their proactive behavior. This is a major change from past practices where both the Wingman who confronted the potentially harmful behavior and the Airman who received the support, remained anonymous.
The Airman who is saved from the potentially dangerous situation or harmful behavior will continue to be protected by anonymity. However, reinforcing the proactive actions will begin to change the AFMC culture and enhance the connection of our Air Force community.
“True Wingmen look out for the welfare of their peers and community, and in using these instances as teachable moments, we encourage similar behaviors from our entire workforce,” said Schaefer. “The Air Force Core Values – integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do – are the foundation for the Wingman concept. The program is premised on the connection between Wingman concepts and bystanders.”
In addition, the development of a Wingman Intervention webpage on the AFMC website https://www.afmc.af.mil/Wingman/, stresses the inspiring and impactful nature of the program. Anyone can nominate a Wingman or share a witnessed Intervention.
In an effort to highlight the positive actions of Wingmen at Hill Air Force Base, complete a Wingman Intervention Submission Form and submit it to email@example.com. Stories will be shared across the command as great examples of how one small act can make a difference.
75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs contributed to this story.