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Airman Was at ‘Right Place, at the Right Time’

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan, Sept. 8, 2016 — During a trip to visit sailors and airmen in Japan, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff found himself at the right place, at the right time to recognize an airman who was also at the "right place, at the right time." 

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford made a point of visiting Air Force Tech. Sgt. Garrett Oneto here yesterday after learning he did the right thing and helped a fellow airman who was contemplating suicide.

Dunford said he wanted to personally thank and recognize Oneto, the support section noncommissioned officer in charge at the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here, for his exemplary actions.

"What we really want is everyone to be in the position that you're in as a leader," he told the airman. That includes being able to assess whether someone has high risk factors "and then make sure you do something about it when you see it," Dunford said.

Oneto said he did not expect a personal visit from the highest-ranking military officer. "It was a huge surprise," he said.

Helping A Fellow Airman

The airman who needed help reached out to Oneto, who says he then visited with the airman and helped him get the assistance he needed.

"Sometimes you just feel like you're in the right place, at the right time," he said.

Oneto’s personal experiences and 16 years in the Air Force help him relate to his airmen, he said.

"Every airman is different," Oneto said, explaining approaches need to be tailored to the individual. It is important to know your people, and be someone your people can talk to and trust, he said.

Need a Hand? Just Ask.

A message that Oneto has for anyone who is struggling: talk to someone and get help.

"If you need help, chances are it's because you've done and been through a lot," he said, adding a person can be proud of what they have accomplished and overcome. "Now you just need a little help dealing with it on the back end."

Struggles are a part of life, he said.

"There's no shame in asking for help," Oneto said. "There's nothing wrong with going to somebody and saying 'Hey, you know, I need a hand.'"

Help for service members, veterans and family members is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Check with your local unit or the Military Crisis Line - Veterans Crisis Line website.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)

Distribution channels: Military