Suicide Stand-Down Inspires 51st Fighter Wing’s “Mustang Resiliency Campaign”

51st Fighter Wing Commander Col. John Gonzales briefs airmen on the upcoming Resilience Tactical Pause day during his first all call inside the base theater at Osan AB, South Korea, on Aug. 12, 2019. Air Force photo by SrA. Denise Jenson.

The 51st Fighter Wing at Osan AB, South Korea, is launching a new effort to make airmen feel more connected to their wing, get rid of obstacles to and stigma surrounding mental health care, support squadron revitalization, and solicit advice about how it can better serve airmen and their families, the wing told Air Force Magazine.

The initiative—dubbed the Mustang Resiliency Campaign—will debut on Aug. 30, the day the wing has chosen to take its service-mandated stand-down to address the topic of suicide within USAF ranks, according to a wing release. The more specific goals of the campaign, which was inspired by the USAF-wide Resilience Tactical Pause that was announced by Chief of Staff David Goldfein and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright on Aug. 1, will be shaped by feedback the wing gets during the stand-down, wing spokesman 1st Lt. Daniel de La Fe said in an email.

"The pause gives the wing the opportunity to focus on the fight against hopelessness and suicide, but the wing is going to use the information to launch into the engagement and courageous, bold leadership that is required at every level to make a difference,” he said.

The 51st Fighter Wing’s Commander’s Action Group, along with the wing’s community support coordinator and violence protection integrator, are planning and carrying out the campaign, with assistance from additional agencies at Osan, de La Fe said.

The campaign also aims to educate airmen and their families about Defense Department resources available to them before the need for them has a chance to arise, de La Fe said. As part of the Aug. 30 stand-down, Osan is also conducting a town hall for spouses, whom he called “a key focus for the longer campaign effort.”

CMSAF Kaleth Wright shares his thoughts on the recent announcement of the Resilience Tactical Pause. Video: A1C Matthew Angulo/17th Training Wing

Suicide has taken the lives of more airmen “than any other single enemy,” including combat, Wright said. And although Osan last lost an airman to suicide in February 2018, countering it is still a priority, de La Fe said. As the Air Force’s “most forward deployed wing” that’s removed from “an active warzone,” the 51st FW wants to better equip its airmen to deal with long schedules and a demanding ops tempo, he said.

“Even though we haven’t lost a life this year, this issue still affects all of us; we’re not immune,” he said.