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Wellness, resilience fortify us in 2012

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- -- This has been a challenging year for the Patriot Wing. Deployments, ORI preparation, the ORI itself, the tornado in June, the earthquake and hurricane in August, and the destructive snowstorm in October have added to the stress of our already stressful lives.

During times like these we must remain resilient. I encourage you to apply the Comprehensive Airman Fitness plan to survive life's challenges. Resilience is a tool that empowers us to create balance in our lives and allows us to thrive in our professional and personal endeavors.

The four pillars of the Comprehensive Airman Fitness plan are: physical, social, mental and spiritual wellness. This holistic approach to wellness focuses on developing positive behaviors that equip and enable Airmen to make smarter, safer choices. They help promote both individual and organizational resilience and create a sense of belonging among Airmen, spouses, children, civilians and the community as a whole. Tending to the needs of others, as well as your own needs, creates a network of encouragement. The primary goal of the resiliency training aspect of CAF is to prepare individuals for an adverse event before it happens.

Performing and excelling through exercise, nutrition, and training is essential to surviving adversity. A person who is out of shape and unhealthy will quickly become ill when challenged physically and mentally. Eating a healthy diet and following a good exercise plan are great ways to get ready for adversity.

You can reinforce the social pillar of wellness by developing and maintaining trusted, valued friendships. No one can survive life alone; we all need the company of others. Relish and nurture your friendships with people you can trust. Experience has shown that the support of others is essential to overcoming adversity. Having friends you can trust and rely on in a pinch is a crucial safety net that will allow you to function under stress.

Practicing self-control and building character will enable you to mentally withstand exceptional challenges. Performing your duties during MOPP-4 and leading your family during a power outage both require self-control and character. Undisciplined, selfish people do not do well when faced with adversity. Be that person everyone looks to during an emergency. Practicing the tenet of service before self is an excellent way to build character.

Whatever your beliefs may be, spiritual strength is required to persevere during a crisis. Strengthening beliefs and values will enable you to look beyond yourself and those around you to maintain confidence and overcome adversity. Many former POWs have commented that when physically and mentally abused, isolated from others, and given no hope of release, they were able to survive through their spiritual beliefs. Spiritual wellness will give you that reserve strength to draw upon when all seems lost.

I'm confident that the Patriot Wing will begin 2012 prepared to conquer whatever challenges are thrown our way. We'll strive to be prepared for our expected challenges, but we will also be prepared for unexpected challenges, both on and off duty. I expect all of you to be prepared for adversity both at work and at home. Resiliency will give us the strength we need in order to face whatever 2012 has in store for us.