Commentary by General C. Robert Kehler
Air Force Space Command commander
On this Memorial Day, our nation is still engaged in a conflict that puts our Airmen in harm’s way. Please continue to keep our servicemembers in your hearts, on your minds and in your prayers.
Memorial Day also marks the beginning of the 2009 Critical Days of Summer – a time of increased risk due to summer time activities. Historically, we lose more personnel to vehicle mishaps than any other type of activity (17 fatalities in 2008). We must learn from our mistakes and those of others.
Commanders, be sure your summer safety campaigns aggressively address topics such as water sports, traveling long distances, motorcycle riding and sports/outdoor activities. Remind our troops that excessive consumption of alcohol kills. It is the third leading cause of death in the United States (more than 79,000 per year) and has adverse health consequences and unintentional injuries.
Supervisors, hold face-to-face safety briefings and discuss risk management strategies with your people before they go on leave. Don’t sign that leave paperwork until you’re convinced they understand the risks and are taking them seriously.
To all AFSPC personnel, make smart choices this summer. Remember that we’re all mortal and sometimes our lives and the lives of others depend on the choices we make. Wear your seatbelt every time you get into a car. Wear the proper motorcycle protective equipment every time you ride. Don’t drive after drinking or when you’re fatigued…ever. If you drink, do it with moderation and avoid participating in activities that require good judgment and dexterity. Think seriously about safety – be sure you are around to celebrate Labor Day.
Our safety campaign has proven effective in the past, but like the suicide prevention and wingman programs – you are the key to its success. Be good wingmen. Be vigilant and willing to act when you see someone taking unnecessary risks or exhibiting signs of distress. We cannot afford to lose any of our Air Force Space Command family members. You are irreplaceable. I am proud to serve side-by-side with you. Have a safe and enjoyable summer.