As a leader and senior NCO, I have many responsibilities — ranging from ensuring the day-today job gets done to caring for Airmen. During the course of a normal day, there is no shortage of projects, tasks and suspenses reminding me there are still 101 jobs that need to be accomplished. The mission will always remain, but the people are what drive the mission. It’s important to always remember to balance organizational duties with supporting our Airmen’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.
I find one of the most successful ways to do this is through weekly roll calls. A roll call isn’t a staff meeting; it’s a chance for leaders to come together with their Airmen and talk about things that affect their wellness. This not only gives Airmen a chance to interact with their leaders individually on a personal level, it creates a cohesive bond with the entire group. Roll call is a chance to be real with each other and open up about what is going on in our lives. Establishing a cohesive environment with camaraderie is critical to maintaining personal and professional wellness.
A personal account of a young NCO is a great example of how roll call can maintain and support wellness — and even save lives. Two years ago, a young staff sergeant got a call from her mother informing her that her sister had passed away unexpectedly. On that tragic day, the young woman truly believed her life had ended along with her sister’s. After she came back from an unwanted trip home to lay her sister to rest, this young staff sergeant became depressed and began to drown her pain in alcohol. She began to smell like alcohol even after she had showered before coming to work. Her supervisor noticed that things weren’t quite right with the young sergeant during a roll call and pulled her aside to ask what was going on. She had just changed work sections, so nobody in the new section knew about her sister’s sudden death. She opened up to her supervisor, explaining what had happened and how she was feeling. After three hours of sharing her experience, she felt much better and began to slowly change the direction her life was heading. Without this roll call, she very easily could have continued on a path of self-destruction. One roll call — one small session — created an environment where a supervisor saw one of his own who was hurting and prompted her to express what she was going through in her life. This roll call put her back on the path to emotional wellness.
Roll call is an essential part of our military life and embraces the Wingman concept. Roll call is an opportunity to interact with your leaders and fellow Airmen about anything, not just the trials we face in our lives. Mission priorities, senior leader messages, emerging Air Force issues, professional development, education and other positive topics are also discussed at roll call.
Regardless of the topics discussed, the foundation of roll calls is the Wingman concept. Being a good wingman means sharing a trusted bond and counting on each other professionally and personally, whether on or off duty. We’re all in this together, so take the time to share with each other in roll call sessions and realize the importance of being a good wingman. Take care of your fellow Airmen and they’ll take care of you.