|Sal Gonzalez, USMC LCpl ret. speaks with Airmen at|
Rivers Edge Airmen Center - Barksdale AFB
Shreveport, Louisiana- The Air Force Global Strike Command ‘The Gunners Tour’ featuring decorated wounded Marines has arrived at Barksdale Air Force Base... not by amphibious assault off the Red River, but by prosthetics and purple hearts. Their mission: to increase Airmen resiliency and overall strength. Not through lectures and power point presentations, but by getting up close and personal with today’s Airmen.
“We started American300 Warrior Tours because we felt the DoD could use some help... not with understanding the problem of resiliency, but with the administration of the message” says Robi Powers, founder of the nonprofit “whenever an organization steps into the arena of behavioral science, there’s going to be a certain amount of ‘blunting effect’ that takes place as a new message is put forward... we try to help minimize that phenomenon.”
American300’s solution... put the message of troop resiliency in a living breathing life form and put that life form toe to toe with troops. “We find individuals who have amazing life examples of resiliency and ask them to volunteer up time to mentor our troops... we don’t write about it or create fancy presentations” says Powers “our mentor volunteers are skilled at sharing their own life stories and helping troops understand the many avenues to adaptability that can assist them in being stronger... better in life.”
To date the nonprofit has brought over 40 guests to nearly 400 bases around the world... all in under 4 years. They don’t look for superstars or celebrities unless that superstar has a worthy life portfolio “It’s the ability for a guest mentor to connect and share that is essential to our process” says Jesse Stewart, a decorated US Army Wounded Warrior who sits on American300‘s board of directors, adding “we ask our volunteers to work 20 hour days and give everything of themselves to our troops... it’s not for everyone.”
As the Marines make their way around Barksdale, they’ll represent the 5th group of American300 guests to visit the Air Force Base. The command has had American300 visiting it’s bases since February of this year in a program labeled ‘Never Quit’.
|Marines John Bates, Col ret. and Dan Gilyeat, SSgt ret.|
connect with Airmen at Rivers Edge Airmen's Center.
Barksdale AFB - Air Force Global Strike Command
“We’re honored to be a part of the on going effort by this new command to focus on the individual Airmen, when you truly focus on the individual as this new command has been doing over the past several years, the results speak for themselves... you see a stronger, healthier force.” adds Stewart “The reality is that there’s no one program that is going to solve a commands resiliency issues, but it takes leadership that is willing to focus on the individual that ultimately makes the biggest difference, this command gets it.” Strong words coming from a highly decorated US Army Ranger/Pathfinder wounded warrior who just recently medically retired from service.
“I never fully comprehended how effective this form of interactive mentoring could be until two weeks ago in Afghanistan” says Sal ‘Gonzo’ Gonzalez, one of the wounded Marine warriors who was with Powers and 3 other wounded Marine Corps Veterans on tour for the DoD earlier in the month. “We received so much positive feedback from brothers and sisters we met on tour... telling us how we motivated them, gave them tools to live a better life with... be stronger.”
Now Gonzalez is joined by Col John Bates, a gold star purple heart recipient retired Marine, Dan Gilyeat an above knee amputee Marine Wounded Warrior and the first ever all wounded warrior Rock’nRoll Band ‘Warrior Spirit’ in sharing stories. “We’re 6 months into the project for Air Force Global Strike Command and it’s the middle of summer... what better time to turn up the heat on our programming” says Powers “We’re connecting with individual Airmen, providing them with personal road maps that will assist them with getting through a tight spot down the road... or out of a current pinch there in and we’re doing it this month with a ‘battalion of Marines and Wounded Warriors‘, later this week we’ll be sharing a world champion cowboy with one of the bases out west.”
Resiliency road maps... ‘handed out’ by toe to toe interaction... one Airmen at a time- American300 Never Quit Series.
The Gunners Tour will be at Barksdale AFB July 22nd and 23rd before heading north to the command’s Whiteman AFB for programming on the 24th.
PHOTOS - VIDEOS - STORIES available at:
For more on Air Force Global Strike Command visit: www.afgsc.af.mil
To listen to and learn about Warrior Spirit Band go to: www.warriorspiritband.com
|Warrior Spirit Band performing at River's Edge Airmen's Center - Barksdale AFB - Air Force Global Strike Command|