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Air Force leaders issue Labor Day message

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy send the following Labor Day message to the Airmen of the U.S. Air Force and their families:

Labor Day is a distinctly American holiday, created by workers to pay tribute to our Nation's workforce and acknowledge its role as a source of America's strength, freedom and leadership. On this holiday weekend, as always, we thank you for your labor, service and hard work. Each Airman plays an important role in accomplishing our mission, and that is why our goal is to eliminate preventable mishaps. All Airmen should be available for family, friends and their fellow Airmen who are counting on them. So, as you celebrate with family and friends this Labor Day weekend, plan your activities with care and minimize risk.

Lapses in safety affect us all. Forty-one Airmen have been lost in off-duty mishaps this year -- 28 of them in motor vehicle accidents. Others were lost to drowning, all-terrain vehicle crashes, unintended weapon discharges and other mishaps. Many of these tragic losses were in all likelihood preventable, the result of risk-filled behavior such as excessive speed, irresponsible alcohol use, extreme driving, failing to use proper safety gear or inattention. And, equally regrettable, we have lost 56 members of our Air Force family to suicides this year as well.

Your family, friends and fellow Airmen depend on you. Set a standard of zero tolerance for reckless behavior -- for yourself, your loved ones and your wingmen -- and pay attention to subtle behavioral changes that could indicate heightened levels of stress. And, as you enjoy the remaining days of warm weather and the company of friends and family, please remember that safety requires deliberate effort. Let us work together to accept no unnecessary risk.