461st ACW: Keeping PULSE on Airmen, pursuing wingman culture

  • Published
  • By Kisha Foster Johnson
  • Robins Public Affairs

The 461st Air Control Wing at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, is gauging the PULSE of its Airmen.

PULSE stands for Pause, Understand, Listen, Share and Empathize. It is an off-shoot of the Air Combat Command engagement action called Bridge Chats.

Inside of Coats Hall at Robins, Col. Michelle Carns, 461st ACW commander shared her thoughts about the importance of PULSE chats with the first Airmen who were participating in this new initiative.

“I love the first word of it, pause,” said Carns. “How many times do we do that during the day? Never, right? We are all going 100 miles an hour with our jobs and personal lives.

“It’s important to pause in order to think, ask, consider, and learn,”Carns continued. “As we prepare for the challenges we are going to face in the next couple of years, this mindset is one of those things that’s going to be absolutely pivotal to our success and how we communicate with each other about what is going on and how it is affecting us. The best part is—this came from you.”

In 2019, then Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein determined there was a need for a resilience tactical pause due to a spike in suicides. Bridge Chats were created in an effort to help leaders build stronger connections and support networks across units and installations.

The small round-table conversations, led by a facilitator will be held quarterly, and will give Airmen the opportunity to discuss various matters of concern.

These informal talks are meant to build relationships by equipping, engaging, and empowering those involved, said Master Sgt. Philip Yago, PULSE lead organizer and 461st ACW Instrument and Flight Control Section chief. He was one of the initial group of four Airmen who inspired PULSE.

“A lot of times when we are clocking in and out of work, we tend to forget about the people aspect, which is a very big part of the Air Force. We want to show every person is of great value,” he said. “When they are having difficult times or events, we want to make sure we are available to address that. Addressing issues is the hardest part, because it’s tough to talk about something very sensitive and show your vulnerability.”

PULSE will mirror some Bridge Chat objectives, which includes steps to build connective teams and encourage the wingman culture.

Facilitators, like Yago, said that these small group discussions will help identify what kind of mindsets or habits contribute to a person’s success or stress.

The group gatherings serve as a way to mentor, coach, and create positive shifts in attitude and behavior.

Chief Master Sgt. Caleb Vaden, 461st ACW command chief, also spoke at the event. He told Airmen the heart of this program is about connecting.

“This may give you a chance to speak with someone you may not have spoken to before,” said Vaden. “When we share our experiences and not hold back, you never know how that is going to benefit someone else and get them through whatever they may be dealing with.”

Also in attendance was James Hall, a counselor with the Robins Military Family Life Counselor Program. Hall shared why he believes PULSE is an important support system.

“Everybody needs someone to talk to, and at some point everybody will need someone to help them,” Hall said. “When I was in Vietnam, the only option we had was the chaplain, who did the best he could. You all have us, certified counselors, who are trained and on standby to help you navigate through any challenges.”

He added, if additional help is needed, the MFLC Program is an alternative outlet that is confidential and free.

“If you ever asked yourself what is your purpose in life, your purpose is to help someone else. It’s not just about you,” Hall continued. “As you pour yourself into someone else and build them up with encouragement, they will change for the better and so will you.”

PULSE will be held quarterly with participation limited to the first 50 people. Announcements for future sessions will be sent via work email. For more information contact Yago at