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Smoke doesn't always mean fire Part I

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An opaque response to a request for transparency

  This article will be published at the same time as a podcast addressing the exchange on the CMSAF's Facebook page. For a complete analysis I encourage you to continue reading then listen to Episode 17 of the 20 Years Done Podcast. The podcast can be found on typical podcast mediums as well as the RSS feed in the top right of this website. On October 17th at 6:32 PM the  Facebook page for the CMSAF posted a photo of a few deployed Airmen that she had a video conference with. Then one person made a comment. This blog isn't going to analyze that exchange, that's what the podcast episode is for. However, in the course of preparing and recording the podcast I heard rumors that the CMSAF herself didn't actually make that post. So, I did what anyone would do. I tracked down contact information for her Public Affairs team and asked them some questions. But before we get to those questions, I think it's important to first provide some context. First, the CMSAF's Faceb

A Chief's Perspective

Submitted by Martina Borg  A recent article titled ' VA reveals its veteran suicide statistics included active-duty troops ' in the Stars and Stripes dated June 20, 2018 highlights suicide rates in the military. In light of the stressful environment we all experience because we are in the profession we are in, I wanted to share a little something about myself. I struggle. I sit here and wonder if I should even divulge this information. But I know that there are others out there who go through the exact same thing as me and I want you to know that you are not alone. No one wants to be seen as weak or be perceived as not being able to handle... life. And do you know what the crazy thing is? The logical portion of my brain says I am being stupid. Dumb, stupid and asinine because my life, as a whole, is pretty darn good. I've realized my dream of becoming a Chief. My husband is my rock solid support in all my endeavors. My son is doing so well, in fact, he was recently promoted

Silence Broken

The following was submitted to the 20 Years Done Facebook page anonymously. I have mainly edited it for formatting, but otherwise this is the straight from the field information that leaders bemoan they are unable to receive.

You need a voice

As many of you know this blog started with me telling stories from my career. Those stories allowed me to explain the path my career took that eventually placed me in a position to affect some positive change for the people that worked for me, and some people that didn't. One time I even managed to write about a  toxic leader abusing his people and get him to stop. It was a bit of a light-bulb moment for me. I could go beyond messages and instead I could be a voice for the silenced and do something to make the military better. So I began writing about problematic decisions and events in the military. I received quite a bit of feedback through messages, texts, comments and shares. It's no coincidence that my blog began exactly three days after my Date of Separation because the truth is, military members don't have a voice. In the Air Force, service members are restricted from sharing their honest thoughts and opinions by varying AFIs and the UCMJ. However, the Air Force Pub

We failed to quantify quality Airmen

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a FOIA request I submitted in July 2019. The intent of the request was to bring clarity to the career fields impacted by the ongoing suicide epidemic in the Air Force. If you remember, the response was flaccid. I went on to show how the current AF/A1 Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly was dishonest when he gave an interview in 2015 suggesting that critical career fields were somehow shielded from the Force Reduction measures, colloquially called " The Air Force Hunger Games ." But to simply say certain career fields were cut is insufficient to explain how the cuts were determined and, moreover, which discriminators were used. And for that, we need to go back a ways... In early 2011 the Air Force had transferred many SSgts and TSgts from fighter maintenance to heavy aircraft in an effort to shore up their issues in the heavy world. In effect, robbing Peter to pay Paul. This left us with a slightly lopsided organization: thick in the SNCO ranks,

Air Force "Deep Dive" on Suicides Lands in the Shallow End

Photo courtesy of Technical Sergeant Brian Martin A year ago this week I wrote an article about what I believed was an impending and escalating suicide problem afflicting the Air Force. I was using my own military service, as well as information from my colleagues still serving, to piece together bits of information on suicides. In so doing I noticed a trend. But, before I get started a reminder: I am not an expert on mental health and nothing I say should be interpreted as medical advice. As I wrote the article, more suicides were happening. I initially believed the issue was local to Holloman Air Force Base. However, as 2019 progressed it was clear this epidemic wasn't the exclusive domain of the 54th Fighter Group. Prior to the Air Force announcing they had a suicide problem, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act[FOIA] request to the SecAF requesting all suicide metadata, to include Air Force Specialty Codes[AFSCs], or "job" data from 2009 to 2019. Thre

I'm not dead or anything

Man, it's been awhile huh? The last time I published an article was in February. Why the long break? Well, it's complicated. My last article was posted at about the 1 year anniversary of my retirement . I had moved to my forever home in my forever state and started a new job. The new job was helping low income and first generation [college] veterans enroll in undergraduate programs all across the great State of Maine. It was the first time in I can't remember how long where my job produced essentially zero stress. More importantly, my entire job was to help veterans reach their goals. Something that I craved since my retirement. I didn't know what this blog was when I first started it. Really, I just wanted to tell a story I had been holding for a long time. Then it gave me the opportunity to relay some of the lessons I learned through my career. Eventually the stories seemed a little less relevant and moved into current Air Force and military events wit