“Our Air Force support system has a common goal of serving Airmen and their families, but certain barriers exist which detract from our overall effectiveness. On a personal level, Airmen are known to fear the consequences or stigma that may result from seeking help from our supporting agencies. External risk factors, such as high ops tempo, social and physical isolation, frequent transitions, and age, also put some of our Airmen at heightened risk for negative outcomes. Task Force True North seeks to provide a framework to ensure our Air Force is the healthiest, most resilient and fit force, regardless of the dynamic challenges our Airmen face.” -- Gen Stephen W. Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Airmen face immense challenges, both mental and physical, nearly every day. The stress can be overwhelming at times, compromising their mission-readiness and making them more vulnerable to negative outcomes. As their most valued resource, Air Force Leadership recognizes the need to increase the resilience of Airmen and their families and support their overall well-being, promoting the physical, mental, spiritual and social aspects of everyday life. Task Force True North is an initiative that aims to do just that – by embedding mental health professionals, physiologists, physical therapists, and a religious support team within high-risk groups of a Wing.
The Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Stephen W. Wilson chartered Task Force True North (TFTN) two years ago, underscoring the Air Force’s commitment to help every Airman and their family members thrive in both their personal and professional lives. Inspired by United States Special Operations Command’s Preservation of the Force and Family Program, Task Force True North began beta-tests in July 2018 at four bases around the United States (Whiteman AFB, Minot AFB, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and Beale AFB).
When I’m considered their Chaplain and there’s ownership over me, I’ve been receiving more direct calls. Generally, in the previous model, if there’s an emergency or crisis, Leadership or the Squadrons will call the Command Post and the Command Post would then try to find who the duty Chaplain is and then connect us to that particular Squadron and I might not even be assigned to that Squadron. But because I’m the duty Chaplain, I’ll be responding to that call. But now being embedded, First Sergeants, any leaders, I even had a Flight Chief today contact me directly to see an Airman, so that really drastically reduced the time to deliver care for the Airman.
– Capt Charles Kim, True North Chaplain, Whiteman AFB
It’s not going to mental health or family advocacy that hurts your career, it’s the actions you took before then. But referring yourself and wanting to get better doesn’t hurt your career, it makes you a better person. So I think having more people out there and more people able to spread that word, I think it helps significantly. And I think people talk to the social worker a lot more and to the Chaplain a lot more knowing that they’re closer.
– SMSgt James Gray, 509 Maintenance Squadron, Whiteman AFB
“When you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand, and nothing, no nothing is going right. Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there to brighten up even your darkest night.” – Carole King
The lyrics of the Carole King song, "Ain't it good to know that you've got a friend?" could sum up the intentions behind Task Force True North's embedded asset program, which includes a Religious Support Team at all four beta-test installations.
“For me,” said Master Sgt. Kenyetta Sullivan, a Religious Affairs Superintendent, “it’s all about the people. I can do a million programs and a million marriage retreats, and a million healthy office relations. But in the end, all of that is just the people. I need to see the people every single day.”
Because she is embedded within the 673rd Logistics Readiness Group, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Sullivan says she is able to get to know her Airmen on a personal level and is better equipped to quickly respond to emergency situations.
Office of Resilience March 27, 2019Task Force True North provides Air Force leaders at all levels the qualified personnel and tools needed to optimize performance and increase Airmen and Family resilience, helping them thrive in their personal and professional lives and encouraging a culture of inter-dependency, so that helping Wingmen and seeking help for oneself are seen as signs of strength. It aims to promote the well-being of Airmen and their families from the moment they report to the installation, optimizing their mission-readiness and mitigating negative outcomes. That includes helping Airmen and their families avoid some of the stressors involved with moving from one assignment to another.
The Welcome Center is one of five components within Task Force True North, now in beta-test at four installations in the United States – Whiteman, Beale, Minot, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The Welcome Center provides a foundation for the program from day one, helping Airmen and their families seamlessly integrate into a supportive and welcoming installation.
Office of Resilience April 8, 2019When a 29-year-old Senior Airman failed to show up for work, a friend and fellow Airman found him dead from a gunshot in his apartment not far from base. The Office of Special Investigations later ruled it self-inflicted. While any death is painful to family, friends and co-workers of the deceased, a death by suicide is especially tragic; not only for the victim’s family, but for the Wingmen of a close-knit squadron in sometimes remote locations.
Task Force True North’s charter was created two years ago to beta-test initiatives that help prevent tragedies like this by addressing Comprehensive Airman Fitness. The beta test became a reality in July 2018.
“Our Airmen and their families experience a host of unique challenges. When they face adversity and do not seek help, they increase risk to themselves, potentially others, and degrade mission readiness, thus degrading Air Force lethality,” said Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Stephen W. Wilson.
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