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Shaw launches peer support program

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Steven Cardo
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Air Force 20th Fighter Wing launched a basewide peer support program designed to train Airmen from a variety of ranks and backgrounds to identify colleagues in distress and assist in connecting them with the appropriate support programs, in the first-ever training and tabbing ceremony of its kind here, Dec. 8th, 2022.

The Peer Support Program aims to foster help-seeking behaviors, reduce potentially harmful actions and isolation, and encourage service members assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing to connect with their peers, with over 50 members at launch ranging from Airman to Senior Master Sgt.

“A peer support program is an opportunity to promote psychological health and safety in the workplace,” said Wesley Yancey, 20th Fighter Wing community support coordinator. “It is rooted in a relationship of trust between a person who is experiencing a personal or professional challenge and a peer supporter who has the training and experience that allows them to understand, support, and connect that person to a professional resource if necessary.”

Supporters within an organization offer emotional support and connections to various helping agencies on base such as mental health, the military and family readiness center, the victims counsel and more to colleagues in need with the added benefit of having similar experiences and an understanding of a shared work center culture.

“A person seeking out a peer supporter does not need to have a serious condition, either physical or mental,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Juliana Schroeder, 20th Fighter Wing deputy sexual assault response coordinator. “It could be someone experiencing a difficult situation at work or struggling with the stressors of everyday life and because the peer supporter is a part of that person’s organization, they more than likely had similar experiences and can provide a unique form of emotional and practical support.”

Participants qualify for duty after taking a foundational course followed by quarterly skills training after their induction to fortify skills such as emotional intelligence and interpersonal crisis management. 

“I had friends at my last base who could have been helped significantly by having someone to talk to,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Damani Baptiste-Wood, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron unit training manager. “Peer supporters within an organization are easy to talk to because they’re someone you see everyday and if you come to them with a problem, they already know you and may already know what you need. I wanted to be that person.”

The directors of the program encourage participants to designate a title for the 20th Fighter Wing peer supporters and design a new and unique tab to create a sense of ownership of the program for Team Shaw. 

“Our goal is to make sure that every member of Team Shaw, Airman or civilian, is able to quickly identify someone they want to talk to and feel safe relating to when they are facing daily challenges, especially on their worst day,” said Col. Kristoffer Smith, 20th Fighter Wing commander. “Our trained peer supporters are the frontline ensuring that we are able to get our team the resources they need early and seamlessly.”

Service members who are interested in being part of the program can contact Wesley Yancey, 20th Fighter Wing community support coordinator, for more information about joining the Peer Support Program at