What does being resilient mean to you?

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Sandra Plentzas
  • first sergeant, 944th Medical Squadron
Resiliency continues to be a hot topic across the Department of Defense as we wrap up what is unfortunately a year with record-breaking suicide rates in the military. You have likely heard the word "Resiliency" several times over the past year in the context of suicide prevention, Wingman Day activities, or in preparation for or returning from a deployment. Resiliency in a nutshell is the ability to bounce back from adversity and cope during stressful situations. But what does being resilient mean to you, personally? If you had to honestly assess your own level of resiliency--your own ability to bounce back and cope--how would you fare? How would you even begin to assess yourself?

To build a culture of resiliency the Air Force developed Comprehensive Airman Fitness which defines four practical, measurable components, or pillars, of a person's overall fitness: Physical, Mental, Social and Spiritual. Picture these pillars as the legs of a chair that supports the weight of all that goes on in our lives. If one or more of those legs becomes weak or damaged, the amount of weight that chair can continue to support will decrease. And, if those legs don't get repaired or reinforced, the chair will eventually collapse under that weight. When that happens in our own life or the life of a coworker, friend, or family member, the impacts can be devastating. When that happens to our military members, it can have serious effects on our ability to meet our mission requirements.

So back to you and your own resiliency... How strong are the legs of your life's chair? Take a look at the short descriptions of each pillar below and ask yourself if one or more of your chair's legs could use reinforcement.

· Physical - Physical fitness means meeting fitness standards and leading a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, rest and nutrition.

· Mental - Mental fitness requires effective coping skills, a strong self-image and a positive approach to life. People who are mentally fit demonstrate self-control and make good choices.

· Social - Social fitness means having a strong sense of belonging and connection to the people around you. It's being able to develop and maintain trusted, valued relationships that are personally fulfilling and provide a safe place to exchange ideas, views and experiences.

· Spiritual - Spiritual fitness is about having a sense of purpose and meaning in one's life. It's about strengthening the set of beliefs, principles or values that give someone a sense of well-being, hope and the will to keep going. Spiritual fitness is key to an individual just as esprit de corps is vital to a unit.

If you identified some areas of improvement, you are not alone. As a matter of fact, we will all see weaknesses in one pillar or another at any given time -- especially during times of transition or challenge where life forces us to pay more attention to one at the expense of another. What is important is that we maintain a healthy balance and recognize when we may be neglecting one or more pillars. Then, commit to strengthening those areas that need reinforcement!

AFRC has developed a great website full of information on Comprehensive Airman Fitness. The Wingman Toolkit (http://afrc.wingmantoolkit.org/) "is an Air Force Reserve initiative to empower Airmen and their families to sustain healthy, balanced lifestyles using the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness". The site provides detailed information on strengthening our Mental, Physical, Social, and Spiritual pillars, as well as tips on being a good Wingman and links to resources such as Military One Source, suicide hotlines, and AFRC Airman & Family Readiness programs. The Wingman Toolkit is also now available as a smart phone app also available at the website!

This UTA, there will be a Resiliency Booth at the Holiday party bazaar on Sunday. Please take a moment to visit the booth and learn more about how you and your family can strengthen your pillars and become better able to bounce back from adversity and cope with stressful situations!

Other Helpful Links:

AFRC Wingman Toolkit: http://afrc.wingmantoolkit.org/  

Building culture to sustain resilient Airmen: http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123322334  

Air Force Airman Resilience Website (requires CAC login): https://www.my.af.mil/gcss-af/USAF/ep/globalTab.do?channelPageId=s2D8EB9D62BA52088012BBF52DC91061A  

Air Mobility Command - Comprehensive Airman Fitness: http://www.amc.af.mil/caf/index.asp