Thursday, April 11, 2013

COMMENTARY >> While times change, resiliency stays the same

By Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Leal
19th Maintenance Group superintendent

Living in today’s society can be both exciting and challenging, depending on your perspective and state of mind. Growing up as the youngest son of 10 children, my family endured both triumphs and tragedy. As we go through our daily lives we commonly find ourselves in situations that we are unprepared to handle or need support from others. 
Prior to joining the military my foundation for dealing with life’s situations came from the fact that my family always supported me in all aspects of my life. When I joined the Air Force 24 years ago, my core foundation of support was gone, and I found myself for the first time learning to deal with life’s struggles on my own. 

Today as I talk to our Airmen, I have found that while the issues they face are uniquely different, the concept of dealing with them is basically the same. Last year the Air Force implemented a resiliency training concept that I believe is one of the best Airmen developmental programs seen to date. It incorporates a Comprehensive Airmen Fitness plan that creates a culture where Airmen have the skills to overcome adverse or traumatic events in their lives. Its focus is on four main pillars of wellness that include mental, physical, social and spiritual. 

Prior to completing the mandatory 8-hour training seminar like everyone, I had my reservations on the validity of this new program. Once it was over I was truly amazed on the practical applications that could help our Airmen more effectively deal with daily activities. The military has always taken care of our Airmen but we never truly had a program that focused on the needs of each individual person. 

One of the greatest attributes of resiliency is that it is ever evolving. As we continue to find additional challenges our Airmen face we can adapt our focus to address those situations. This unique flexibility in the program’s design is what makes it significantly different from any other program we have used in the past. As I have spoken to several noncommissioned officers who have taken the course there has been a common theme; they wish that this training was around when they were Airmen.

The reason I believe that they feel this way is because resiliency does not only focus on military applications, it applies to all life’s challenges. Becoming a resilient airman will not only help your military career it will also enhance your personnel life. Being able to successfully cope with all life has to bring will help you become a better airman, supervisor, friend, spouse and parent. 

As we transition the Air Force into the future there are many obstacles that we will have to overcome.  We have seen some of the challenges come to light over the past year with the significant drawdown of deployed troops, mandatory reduction of personnel in our armed forces and some unprecedented fiscal constraints. If we expect our Airmen to deal with the current uncertainties of the future, we must prepare them to become more effective and resilient Airmen. The U.S. Air Force has always been and will continue to be the standard at which excellence is measured. As we transition into the future there is one thing that I am sure of, it is that the world’s greatest and most resilient Airmen will lead the way.

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