By Master Sgt. Jason Davis, 451st Expeditionary Mission Support Group
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- I need each of you to be a "ghost" to your Wingman during this holiday season. No, that doesn't mean I want you to "disappear" when it's convenient for you-quite the opposite.
Let me explain by saying, "Bah, humbug!" Dickens' classic Ebenezer Scrooge character perhaps sums up what your Wingman might be thinking right now. It could be "Bah, humbug" about the deployment, home station issues, guilt of not being home with family, or a variety of endless things that are dragging down your Wingman.
The holidays are a joyous period for most of us. The commander and I have been making our rounds to check on everybody. The men and women of the 451st EMSG seem to be in good spirits, and I'm sure most of the positive feedback we're getting is genuine. We're also both realists enough to know that a suffering Airman might not speak up about personal problems when the boss and first sergeant come around. That's where we're counting on Wingmen to be ghosts.
It was 170 years ago that Dickens wrote about the adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol." Scrooge is a bitter man who despises the holidays. One night, he is visited by three ghosts (four if you count Jacob Marely's initial visit). The ghosts are Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas future (yet to come). As a Wingman, you can take the form of any of these ghosts.
Maybe your Wingman is upset about something that has already happened. It might be loneliness this time of year because of a loved one who passed or a relationship that ended. Whatever it is, your Wingman might just need an ear to tell the story. Be that ghost of holidays past. Lend an ear. You might just learn something.
Perhaps your Wingman's problems are current. There could be financial issues at home. It could be the first holiday season away from family. We all react differently to different stressors. A situation that might drive you to work out more or take a college course might drive your Wingman into depression and anxiety. Be the ghost of holidays present. Offer to take that struggling Wingman to dinner or the gym with you. Find out what makes your Wingman tick, and get involved.
Nothing is as scary for some people as the future. It wasn't more than a few days back we all found out about some upcoming force shaping programs. Do you think that doesn't have some Airmen stressed out? Some Airmen might know they'll be deployed for big events like weddings and birthdays. That could be a downer too. Be the ghost of holidays yet to come. Talk through the issues and don't be afraid to walk you Wingman to the Chaplain or other trusted counsel.
"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me"
Show your Wingman that the ends can and will change. Be a ghost this holiday season by appearing to a Wingman in need.