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Airmen plan peer-to-peer engagements to prevent mishaps

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- Members of the 2012 Airman-to-Airman Safety Advisory Council convened Feb. 14-16 at the Air Force Safety Center to plan communication strategies to share the consequences of their experiences and help others avoid repeating the same mistakes.

A2A began in 2010 and gives young Airmen the opportunity to make a difference by advising the Air Force chief of safety on the most effective communication methods to reach their peers in the 17-26-year-old age group.

"We want other Airmen to learn from your issues," Maj. Gen. Greg Feest, the Air Force chief of safety, told the group. "Part of your job is to tell your stories throughout your (major commands) and give us your ideas for communicating with Airmen and the rest of the Air Force to prevent similar mishaps."

Staff Sgt. Robert Behm, who is assigned to the 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Pope Field, N.C., has spoken at two squadron commander's calls and delivered group-level safety briefings since driving under the influence of alcohol more than two years ago.

No one was physically injured as he drove down the highway after what he described as a typical night of social drinking. The accomplished NCO was proud of his career and being a professional.

"I used to tell myself I'm a staff sergeant in the Air Force, a DUI can't happen to me," Behm said. "But when I saw the red and blue lights in my rear view mirror, I knew instantly how far off I was in my decision making and how stupid I'd been acting.

"Every time I share my story, I try to get (the audience) to focus on me and my actionsm," he continued. "If people can feel as disgusted by my actions as I do, then maybe they can learn the lesson from me instead of the hard way."

Airman 1st Class Trevor Jones, who is assigned to the 336th Training Support Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., shares a story very similar to Behm's. In addition to the embarrassment of an arrest after attempting to drive home after a night of drinking, he was forced to sell his car when he couldn't afford the impound fee and lost base driving privileges for a year.

"I learned that night that your life is made up of decisions and choices," Jones said. "I made a bad decision that night, but now I know I can use that power of decision to make right choices, and I wouldn't trade that lesson for the world."

The experiences of the other Airmen include motorcycle mishaps, a family member's ladder accident that led to the amputation of one leg, and a texting and driving mishap that contributed to a fatality.

Throughout the event, members participated in roundtable discussions about the consequences and effects of alcohol use and risky behavior and helped find ways to more clearly articulate Air Force safety messages to their peers. Additionally, they taped radio spots and videos in support of the Air Force Safety Center's Critical Days of Summer campaign.

Council members briefed their suggestions to Feest and other safety center senior leaders at the conclusion of the planning meetings. Feest praised the Airmen for their hard work and encouraged them to continue to use their voices among their peers to prevent mishaps.