Air Force

August 31, 2012

Being a Wingman: Simple tap of an app could save a life

by Master Sgt. Leisa Grant
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. — Smartphone applications, or apps, have no shortage of uses and can include nearly everything from sharing an exercise route with a friend to finding nearby restaurants.

For Air National Guard members and families, one app serves as a potential lifesaver.

With the goal of enhancing communication, the Wingman Project, a collaborative solution to address suicide intervention for Air National Guard members and families, recently leveraged an effective tool for a technologically savvy audience — the Wingman app.

The app features the A.C.E., suicide prevention model, which reminds them to ask, care and escort their wingman. It also allows the user to create reminders to be good Wingmen and check in on their fellow Airmen, who may live as close as two streets or as far as several states away.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is conveniently listed under the ‘Lifeline’ tab of the app and, if called, there is the military members-only option to seek help immediately.

App users can also tap on the ‘warning signs’ and ‘risk factors’ listed. While some may seem more evident, some of the listed signs that could potentially be overlooked are agitation and irritability, or changes in appetite and sleep patterns. Risk factors range from relationship problems, lack of social support, or a history of suicide attempts.

Knowing the signs and risk factors are what makes it possible to intervene.

Intervention, in many cases, is as simple as asking someone if they are alright, said Dr. Andrea Gonzalez, a senior policy liaison with the National Guard Psychological Health.

“Friends, families and coworkers are very often the ones who know an individual best and are better able to connect on a regular basis,” Gonzalez said.

“Humans are, by nature, social creatures and usually need some form of meaningful connection,” she said. “Having connections to resources within the community ensures that even when not on drill status, Airmen have access to the support they need.”

The Wingman app is just one of several communication tools available. There are many ways Airmen and their families can feel connected, especially when thoughts of suicide are present.

Since its inception in 2007, the Wingman Project has undergone an expansion of video resources, a greater development of social media tools and the creation of Wingman Day training materials.

Many of the newer initiatives were designed to specifically address the unique situation of most Air Guard members — distance.

An added challenge in addressing suicide prevention for traditional, not full-time, Guard members is they do not report to their units daily, as do active duty service members, said Air Force Col. John Slocum, Air National Guard director of safety.

The man who brought the Wingman Project into fruition in 2007, Air Force Col. Edward Vaughan, agreed.

“Air National Guard families are often geographically separated from the bases where they serve,” said Vaughan, former deputy director of ANG safety who currently serves as the ANG advisor to the commander and president of The Air University.

“Wingman Project reaches out across the miles to help family members and families address suicide intervention, regardless of where they live,” Vaughan said, adding that the ultimate goal is to steer members in need of professional help to the right resources quickly.

With numerous websites dedicated to suicide prevention, it is important to note that some sites go beyond just being a simple page with graphics and contact numbers.

“Wingman Project is much more than a website,” said Slocum. “It’s a comprehensive and far-reaching initiative to effectively reach out, educate and empower our Guardsmen and their families to ensure every Guardsman makes it home safe.”

The Wingman Project includes support from chaplains, family support groups, the medical community and the safety office. The program is endorsed by the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Russell S. McMillan

March Key Spouse Program kicks off initial training

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Russell S. McMillan Valerie Fioretta, key spouse facilitator and director of the Airman and Family Readiness Center, March Air Reserve Base, explains an exercise to participants during an init...
 
 

‘Tis the season for holiday health

The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends, celebrate life, to be grateful, and reflect on what’s important. They are also a time to appreciate the gift of health. Here are some holiday tips to support your efforts for health and safety this season. Wash your hands often. Keeping hands...
 
 

California DMV to unveil Veteran driver license, ID card

Late next year, California’s nearly two million Veterans will have the chance to get a special Veteran marking on their California driver license or ID card. The word “VETERAN” on their card will indicate they have served in the United States Armed Forces. The Veteran designation will cost an additional $5. To get the new...
 

 

Safety Tips for this holiday season

It’s that time of year once again, and the March ARB Fire Prevention wants to ensure your safety during the holiday season. It is our pleasure to share the following safety tips to help you enjoy the holiday season. Only flame-proof decorations are authorized for use on March ARB. Special decorations or temporary arrangements for...
 
 

CAL FIRE warns of home heating dangers during winter storms

As a major winter storm prepares to hit California, CAL FIRE is reminding residents to take steps to heat their homes safely. While the cooler weather and rain is a welcomed event during a time of severe drought in California, it also means that many will need to turn on home heating sources to keep...
 
 

Gen. Hyten: Future of AF is air, space, cyberspace integration

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The commander of Air Force Space Command talked about the fundamental relationship between space operations and everyday life – not only for the military, but for the American people – during a breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club, Dec. 5. Gen. John E. Hyten, the AFSPC commander, explained the complexities of global...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin