Thoughts on resiliency By Chaplain (Maj.) Mike Williams

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  • By Chaplain Mike Williams
  • 932nd Airlift Wing Chaplains Office

Thoughts on resiliency
By Chaplain (Maj.) Mike Williams

It was a little over a week ago that Col. Collins and the senior leadership of our wing gathered to coordinate the 932nd Airlift Wing’s initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In many ways it seems like the entire world has changed in just a few days. Our March and April UTAs have been suspended. Much of the Air Force work force is telecommuting. Schools have been cancelled and families everywhere are trying to adjust to a new economic, logistical, and emotional reality.

All of this comes on the heels of what has already been an extremely challenging period for our wing. The recent losses of several Airmen and family members have left many people grieving. Moments like this are precisely why the Air Force stresses the concept of resiliency. Military members tend to be very mission focused. Most of the time that attitude serves us very well. Unfortunately, sometimes our drive to accomplish leads to burnout, fatigue, and dangerous mistakes. Aircrew are diligent about crew rest for a good reason. The simple fact of the matter is that we cannot serve others unless we are healthy and strong.

As we adjust to this new normal, however long it may last, I invite you take a moment to pause. Allow yourself to acknowledge what has been lost. Plans have changed. Hurdles have been erected where we did not expect them. Stress is an inherent part of any change, doubly so when it happens this fast and this dramatically. Alleviate a portion of that stress by focusing on the things that you can control. Listen to the guidance of experts at the CDC, your state health department, and our Air Force leadership while taking care of yourself and your family.

Paying attention to every pillar of our comprehensive Airman fitness will provide the resiliency we need to make it through this outbreak. Social distancing can lead to isolation, especially for reservists living far from Scott Air Force Base. Combat that by checking in on your fellow Airmen by email, phone, and social media. Mental fitness is enhanced by utilizing digital learning and cultural opportunities. Turn off the television occasionally. Pick up a book. Learn a new skill or relearn an old one. Physical fitness equips you to handle the stress of the current situation and strengthens your immune system. Get enough rest. Eat properly. If your gym is closed, take advantage of an online workout or get outside and take a solo run when conditions permit.

Spiritual fitness comes in many forms. For me it comes through scripture and prayer. Recently, my prayers have included gratitude for our nation's medical professionals and have sought guidance for our leaders. Some find spiritual solace through meditation. Others find a connection to something outside of themselves through music, art, or literature. The massive disruptions we are facing these days also bring with them an opportunity to start something new. Find a way to build a helpful practice into your daily routine. Take stock of where you are, both as an individual and as a team. Recognize your limitations. Release the things you cannot control.

After pausing to focus on your own resiliency, begin to move forward as best you can. Be patient with yourself. Remember that there is no such thing as perfect at times like this. We are all learning as we go. This situation is too big for any one of us on our own. The wingman concept reminds us that we do not have to face this alone. Our wing is blessed with some of the most dedicated and capable Airmen I have ever seen. Thank you for providing each other the support necessary to walk through this difficult time together.

As a reminder there are a variety of resources available including our Airman and Family Readiness office. Director of Psychological Health, Yolanda Gunzel, has tips on anxiety related to the COVID-19 virus. “If you are struggling with anxiety or fear and need support please contact me at my office 618-229-7492 or the cell at 618-967-7344. If I do not answer please leave a message and I will call you back as soon as I can,” said Gunzel.

Additional resources are:
932nd Family Readiness Office and Key Spouse
VETERANS CRISIS LINE: 1-800-273-8255
MILITARY ONE SOURCE: 1-800-342-9647