Article Display

Being there when needed

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Destani K. Matheny
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

“That’s not my job,” is the last thing an Airman wants to hear when they call for help, but when Tech. Sgt. Adam Robinson, 20th Command Post noncommissioned officer in charge of command and control systems, answered such a call during a routine nightshift, he made it his job to be a wingman to an Airman in need.

“It was a pretty slow night until I got a call from a U.S. Air Force Central Command Airman, she just kept crying hysterically,” said Robinson. “I didn’t really know what to do at first. We don’t have a checklist for situations like that, but I am prior security forces, so I have some crisis intervention training to be able to fall back on and that training helped.”

Robinson knew he needed to make her feel more comfortable so he started talking to her about anything he could. They spoke about her hometown, how long she had been on base, what she liked to do and college football.

“While talking to her, the Shaw law enforcement desk called me for something unrelated, I felt comfortable enough to put her on hold at that point, so I did. I told them her dorm and room number and stayed on the phone with her until they got there and she was safe.”

While Robinson used his prior SFS training, all Airmen have resources available to them to ensure they can help a fellow Airman in need.

According to, it’s important to ask wingmen directly about what is going on. Ask about issues early rather than waiting for things to escalate to the point of crisis. Take all comments about suicide seriously. Being an active listener and when wingmen talk about their challenges. Asking the tough questions about whether or not Airmen are thinking about harming or killing themselves. If the answer is yes, or if you suspect the answer is yes, do not leave the person alone.

Caring for wingmen can be shown by calmly listening and expressing concern, not being judgmental or promising secrecy. If wingmen around you are having thoughts of suicide, you need to act. Remove anything they could use to hurt themselves and immediately seek help.

The final step is to escort them immediately to the nearest emergency room, mental health clinic, chaplain or primary care clinic. Contact the Airman’s supervisor or chain of command. If a distressed Airman refuses help or you are not sure what to do, call your supervisor or 911 for help. Never leave an Airman who is having thoughts of suicide alone.

This is exactly what Robinson did by asking questions about where the Airman was and what she was facing and caring for her by staying on the phone until she was escorted somewhere safe.

While his actions were recognized by senior leadership, what is more important is that an Airman was able to get the help she needed.

Robinson said it is important for all Airmen to be there and keep an eye on those around them.

“I hope she gets the help she needs and has a long and happy career,” said Robinson.