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Each Airman significant to AF team

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- My first deployment to the desert is one that I will never forget. During any Airman' s first deployment it is guaranteed they will see and witness things they have never seen or witnessed before. Their eyes will be opened and they will experience a shift in paradigm as their horizons broaden. Some experiences are to be remembered forever while some are to be forgotten. Nonetheless each memory will offer the Airman greater insight and perspective on what it truly means to be an American Airman.

During my first deployment to Kuwait, I underwent one of the Air Force's greatest tragedies: losing a fellow airman to suicide. Words can't express the sense of loss the team felt, the impact on the mission and not to mention the suffering of the Airman' s loved ones back home. Anyone who has been close to a suicide victim knows all too well there is no other pain like the pain felt afterward. This was the toughest situation I have ever had to deal with personally. I have come to realize during a time of grief such as this everyone needs to band together to reflect on all the positive things the Airman did for the Air Force, the person has done for their loved ones, and the people's hearts they touched during their time on Earth.

The importance of not pointing fingers, passing blame or even blaming ourselves for what happened cannot be stressed enough. However, reflection upon things we can do better as wingman to prevent future suicides is a necessity. Every Airman needs to take their suicide prevention training to heart. From time to time everyone faces some version of their own trials and tribulations, but as a wingman it is our duty to recognize indicators, check up on them and sound the alarm for assistance. Many people consider suicide because they are facing hardships and do not realize there is help available for every situation they may be facing. American Psychiatrist Karl A. Menniger put it best when he said, "Hope is a necessity for normal life and the major weapon against the suicide impulse."

My first deployment taught me the value each person has to offer and the significance each Airman personally brings to their team. The worth of a solid wingman program cannot be measured yet the need for a solid one can. Every Airman should take pride in wearing the uniform and help to develop their fellow Airmen at every opportunity.