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March Commander's Corner

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Sharilyn Askins, commander of the 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, Jan. 22, 2016.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Floyd)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Sharilyn Askins, commander of the 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, Jan. 22, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Floyd)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE -- I am Lt. Col. Shari Askins the 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. In taking on this position, I became responsible for the well-being of over 250 maintainers and I couldn't be happier and more proud. I feel obligated to watch out for my folks whether they're in uniform or in their favorite pair of jeans. I continually remind them how important it is to communicate any time 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can give me a call, send me a text message or drop me an email if they ever have a question or concern, need someone to talk to or just someone to listen. It is my firm belief that communication is truly the most important ingredient in our military life but more importantly in our personal life. 

In February, our Commander Talking Points focused on Suicide Prevention. This subject is real, this subject is serious and this subject has hit the hearts of everyone at McEntire. If you recall, one of the key preventative measures mentioned in that training was communication. At McEntire we try to impress upon our Airmen the importance of communication and having a good Wingman. A Wingman who will be there in times of trouble or confusion, someone who can tell if you're having a bad day and let you know they are there if you need them. So who is your Wingman? 

We each have our own definition of a good Wingman. A Wingman comes in many different shapes and sizes. They can be your best friend or they could be someone you just met. They can be male or female, short or tall, an Airman or a Soldier, a relative or a voice on the phone who respects your confidentiality. My point is that no one has the same Wingman. As a matter of fact, some of us might not use the same Wingman in every situation. But there is a Wingman standing at the ready that cares and will never pass judgment. Every single one of us has our own way of dealing with everyday stress but sometimes we have to deal with the once-in-a-lifetime stresses and those are not as easy to come forward and communicate. So who will be your Wingman in these difficult times?

Please know that there is someone who will listen. 

I, unfortunately, am going through a once-in-a-lifetime stressor as my mom fights for one more day. But in going through this period in my life, I am reassured by my co-workers, friends and family that they are there and will be my Wingman if I need them. They are there if I ever just want to talk, cry, or just sit quietly with them close by. I know I can go to any one of them and tell them what I'm feeling and they will listen and I'm very thankful for that. There are also some days I don't want to talk and my Wingmen understand that as well. But they let me know they are there and that is very comforting to me. That is what I want my maintainers to feel.

I want my maintainers to feel comfort and reassurance in knowing there is a Wingman close by. Life is tough. Communication can be even tougher but understand that the time you spend being a Wingman could possibly save a life. Try to steer away from texts and emails and go meet with your Wingman. A personal visit could make a huge impact in a positive way.