I’m sure all of you are familiar with the dreaded safety brief. With over three decades in uniform, I’ve participated in more briefs than I’d care to count. Just mentioning participation in a safety brief changes the environment of the room. Through the years, safety briefs have developed a bad reputation for being mind-numbing and repetitive, which is unfortunate since they are an opportunity to make sure your force has the tools they need to make intelligent decisions within their duty and home lives. Sadly, many well-meaning leaders have lost sight of this and as a total force we need to refocus and prioritize the relevance of safety briefs, especially with Hurricane season upon us.
Safety is more than words, more than just saying “don’t drink and drive” or “stay hydrated.” We need to move past the phrases and words that we all know and look to the intent and purpose of the brief in the first place, which is the prevention of loss or injury. I’m talking about more than bruises, broken bones or inoperable equipment. We need to prioritize the physical, mental and emotional well-being of those around us and their families. How do we ensure they get the tools and information they need for situations they’re likely to face? More importantly, are we following up with them? At the end of the day, there is little difference between losing one of our members to a car accident, an act of violence or to suicide. Any loss is a detriment to our team and the overall well-being of our force.
During my tenure as The Adjutant General I have witnessed range safeties take action in the face of unsafe behavior and commanders pause training to address issues of concern. While this behavior is the right thing to do, it’s just the beginning and we owe our Soldiers and Airmen so much more.
The men and women in our formations, as well as those they leave at home each time we call upon them, are our most valuable resource. The safety and preservation of that resource is one of the most important things we can do and I am confident that our leaders at every level feel the same. I charge you all to take the time to check in with your loved ones, your peers and subordinates. Make sure you and your loved ones have a disaster preparedness plan, especially with the threat of Tropical Storm Dorian looming over us. We all need to make safety more than just another mandatory briefing.
You are the men and women this nation calls upon to ensure its safety during times of crisis. You’ve handed out water, MREs and medical supplies from Key West to Mexico Beach. While we’ve gone above and beyond in support of the citizens of Florida, make sure you’re taking the time to care for one another. Stock up on supplies and make a plan for your family, you know what right looks like when it comes to safety, now it’s time to execute. In the coming days we stand ready to support our fellow Floridians in the event of disaster, I know you’re ready to heed the call to service when needed.
I have never been more proud to be a part of anything than I am to be a Florida Guardsmen, and I’m confident our force is ready for any challenge our state or nation faces.
Florida First! Right, Ready, Relevant.
JAMES O. EIFERT
Florida National Guard
The Adjutant General