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News > Mental fitness leads to a more resilient Airman
Mental fitness leads to a more resilient Airman

Posted 2/3/2011   Updated 2/3/2011 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

2/3/2011 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Ever since the Comprehensive Airman Fitness culture took shape in July 2010, one of the top goals in shaping the culture has been to build resiliency among Airmen.
"Airman resilience is a structured program designed to train Airmen in the physical, mental, social and spiritual fitness dimensions," said Lt. Col. John Jorgensen, Air Mobility Command's Mental Health Consultant. "Of those dimensions in building a resilient Airman, one of the most important is mental fitness--which as part of AMC's Comprehensive Airman Fitness culture and is a crucial pillar."

Comprehensive Airman Fitness, or CAF, provides the framework to create and sustain communities on AMC installations that give Airmen and their families a sense of belonging to the Air Force community in which they live, work, and play, according to an AMC talking paper on CAF.

In defining good mental fitness, the paper highlights states it's about "approaching life's challenges in a positive way by demonstrating self control, stamina and good character with choices and actions" and "seeking help and offering help" when required or needed.

"When our force is mentally fit, they are better equipped to take on the every-day challenges presented by the Air Force and the military," Colonel Jorgensen said.
"We face deployments, high operations tempo, and other stressors that bring us challenges every day in dealing with our mental health," the lieutenant colonel said. "We, as Airmen, have to prepare ourselves and find the right combination of things in our lives that gives us the tools to cope and manage stressors as well as do things that brings us happiness. From that, we can achieve mental fitness."

Good mental fitness is a combination of many things together. It's also about taking care of the body. Maj. Patrick Pohle, 628th Medical Group Mental Health Flight commander at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., also tied good mental fitness with physical fitness.

"Body and mind are interconnected," Major Pohle said in a December 2010 report from Airman Jared Trimarchi of the 628th ABW Public Affairs. "When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and you start feeling better."

Lt. Col. Craig Stanaland, 8th Medical Support Squadron commander at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, further defined resiliency, as well as mental fitness, in his Air Force News story Dec. 30 entitled, "Resiliency is key to surviving challenges." He compared resiliency to "having enough gas in your tank to get to where you're going."

Colonel Stanaland said in building resiliency it helps to first admit when there is a problem, act on the issue and get help when necessary. He also stressed that Airmen should realize the important role they play for our nation.

"The Air Force is a special calling," Colonel Stanaland said in the story. "You don't work 'for' a company like your friends and relatives back home. No, you're 'in' the Air Force. That's not a minor semantic distinction. Rather, it's a subtle reminder of enormous significance. You're special. You've answered a higher calling."

He added, "Being a wingman might mean asking awkward questions of a buddy, or stranger, who's acting overstressed. It might mean a conversation with a superior or outside resource agency. Doing the right thing--erring on the side of caution--can be a risky proposition. Step up. Your country and your Air Force are depending on you."
In the big picture, being mentally fit comes back to the person.

"Every person has their own set of beliefs, morals and core values," Colonel Jorgensen said. "That's why we want people to embrace the CAF culture because it combines the personal attributes of every person in life along with the knowledge from all of us in the 'military family' that we are all in this together. Don't be afraid to seek help when you begin a struggle, whether it's your wingman or one of the many helping agencies on base, getting help early gets the problem under control before there are negative outcomes. No one Airman is ever alone and that's why we say we're 'committed to caring' through CAF.

"Stay mentally fit. Stay physically fit. Stay spiritually and socially fit. Combined, this will make us all a more resilient Airman," Colonel Jorgensen said.

(Editor's note: This is the first in series of 24 stories for 2011 by Air Mobility Command Public Affairs highlighting the Comprehensive Airman Fitness culture through a "commitment of caring.")

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