by Tech. Sgt. Joe Harwood
179th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
8/27/2015 - MANSFIELD, Ohio -- -- The
179th Airlift Wing Director of Psychological Health was presented the
region 3 Outstanding Performer Award during an awards and recognition
ceremony at the Pentagon, Aug. 20.
Mrs. Vivian Winters received the award from Maj. Gen. Gretchen
Dunkelberger, Air National Guard assistant to the surgeon general.
Winters serves as the 179th Airlift Wing Director of Psychological
Health, for the Air National Guard unit in Mansfield, Ohio. She also
serves as an adjunct professor in the Human Service program at North
Central State College and Mount Vernon Nazarene University in the social
work program. Mrs.Winters earned a Master of Social Work from The Ohio
State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of
Cincinnati in addictions. In the State of Ohio, she is a licensed
independent social worker with supervision credentials and a licensed
chemical dependency counselor. Her credentials speak to her expertise,
but her actions speak to her character.
Winters has a caring heart and has always aligned her career with taking
care of people. She spent 18 years working in the emergency room.
Before assuming the position at the 179 AW, she was the Adult Program
Director at The Center for Individual and Family Services and at New
Beginnings Recovery Services.
Her commitment to putting people first is welcomed in the Air National
Guard, an organization that stresses the importance of taking care of
one another with its "Wingman" concept. Airmen look out for one another,
on and off duty, watching for signs of distress and offering help when
it is needed. Sometimes, when life gets tough, having a wingman to talk
to; putting things in perspective can make all the difference. Members
of the Air Force are never alone; from peers to supervisors to
leadership, airmen are surrounded by fellow wingmen. Winters believes in
the wingman concept and challenges members to embody it.
"Do you ever take a moment and wonder what your legacy will be?" said
Winters. "All it takes is one person to make change in the world. One
person to listen, show empathy, compassion and be nonjudgmental, are you
Unfortunately, the wingman system can't detect every problem a person
may be battling. What if they are not comfortable talking to their
wingmen about certain things? For those of spiritual faith, the
chaplain's doors are always open and many find what they need there. All
members need to understand how important it is to utilize all available
resources when facing challenges; they need to go talk to Winters.
Her position as the Director of Psychological Health may seem
intimidating to some, they may feel that going to see "The Doc" is
reserved for someone with serious mental issues. Although she is
educated and prepared to handle an airman who may be battling a serious
mental issue, it is not her sole purpose. Winters doesn't wish to judge
anyone or any situation. She doesn't seek to diagnose airmen as unfit
for duty. Winters is a person who loves people. She truly cares to
listen and has expert advice and an armory of resources to steer you in
the right direction. Winters said "I share with everyone that I have a
job but I do not consider it to be work. It is a very humbling
experience to be able to walk with our members through their journey
knowing that each and every one of our airman fight for my freedom every
day. That is what empowers me to keep coming back. My goal in life is
to love God and love all people." She has helped many who have come to
her with problems big and small, and people have noticed.
At the Pentagon, Dunkelberger awarded Winters for the contributions she
has made and recognized her for standing up a Community Action
Information Board and Integrated Delivery System at the 179th AW and
assisting in the set up process at the 121st Air Refueling Wing and the
127th Wing in Selfridge, Michigan; two other air national guard
installations. Winters streamlined reporting methods for agencies to
help leadership track trends. She enthusiastically provided backup
support for the 121st ARW during year-long manning shortage. While
there, she developed a screening program to assist in identifying mental
health symptoms in deployed service members and then established a
process to start early identification methods and timely triage to get
them the help they need.
When asked how it felt to be recognized at the Pentagon, Winters said
"Although I feel honored to be recognized for my work, I would like to
share a message with our members, a quote by Samuel Smiles, 'We learn
wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what
will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made
a mistake, never made a discovery."