Critical Days of Summer - Be good wingmen, watch out for each other

  • Published
  • By Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr.
  • Commander, Air Education and Training Command
The Critical Days of Summer campaign kicks off today and marks, for many people, the start of the summer season with its warmer weather, increased opportunities for outdoor activities, and leave time with family and friends.

Taking leave to unwind increases our individual resiliency and keeps us in balance with our hectic military lifestyle. But this time of year also increases the dangers we're exposed to through recreational mishaps, heat-related incidents, and drunk driving--presumably not yours--but potentially someone else's.

Wingmen are critical during this time. By being there to get someone home safely or to be the voice of reason when someone says, "watch this ...," two words that are almost never followed by anything good. It's during these times, we can be glad to be good wingmen.

Even with clear summer skies, highway safety becomes a major concern for people driving cars and riding motorcycles. Simply put, there are more cars on the road in the summer. The lure of a long holiday weekend entices people to hit the road and we must be especially aware of what's happening on the highway around us.

Distracted drivers are a prime danger on today's highways. People talk on cell phones, text and yes, people even read books while driving. 

Since 2000, Air Education and Training Command has lost 34 members during the Critical Days of Summer. Half of those--17 men and women--were killed in automobile accidents. Our most recent losses occurred last year when one person was not wearing a seat belt and another was using a cell phone.

Only once in the command's history have we seen a fatality-free Critical Days of Summer--2010. It can be done and we need to take precautions and use our wingmen and our common sense to do it again.

We accomplish our mission as a team. We are committed to our core values and to each other and we all have families, friends, and co-workers who are important in our lives. Be a wingman and commit to take care of each other.

This summer take time to be with your family and enjoy the weather and the leisure opportunities available to you. Be safe and help others remain safe as well.