NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — I would be hard pressed to find anyone, myself included, that at one point or another hasn’t gone down the wrong path.
Maybe it was walking on the edge of breaking the law or flat out breaking it. Maybe it was financial troubles, sexual misconduct, drinking too much, relationship issues, work performance slipping, not always doing the right thing when no one is looking, the list is long.
During these moments our egos and denial tend to set in. We rationalize what we are doing and become less aware of how serious it might be.
However, we are really good at spotting problems in others because we are looking from the outside in and not attached emotionally to the issue. This is where you can be a stellar wingman.
Don’t feel hypocritical about saying something to one in trouble that might be doing the same thing you’ve done in the past. Whether or not you got caught or the problem worsened; you learned from it and you can help others. The one you are watching go through something destructive may not recover as you did without intervention.
If you care about your friends, coworkers or even a stranger wearing the uniform; if you care about what happens to us in our Air Force, then you will have the courage to say something.
I have seen troops throw themselves in front of another in danger during war, pull a trigger without thought and defend their crew to no end.
However, I have also spoken to friends of a member that committed suicide. Filled with guilt and sadness, they said they knew something was wrong and did nothing out of fear of losing them as a friend.
Now they are gone.
I have seen others allow people go down that wrong path and when questioned they say, “I use to do it, didn’t think it was a big deal” or “he’s a cool guy and thought he’d be fine” or “he’s grown, he knows what he’s doing.”
Refer all of that back to the ego part of this. We don’t always see what we are doing to ourselves in the moment. We are so quick to literally take a bullet for one another but lack the bravery to risk hurt feelings trying to keep others from ruining their lives or careers.
No more excuses; what you do for others will come around during your moments of blindness to your own destruction.
A great wingman ignores most of the “what ifs” that pertain to themselves and instead focus on the “what ifs” that could happen to an individual if they don’t say something, or do something.
That, my friends, is a wingman according to Master Sgt. Brandy Walker.