by Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
3/7/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- To
increase Airmen resiliency, the Air Force has adapted a culture of
Comprehensive Airman Fitness, helping instill four pillars of standards
to ensure Airmen are "fit to fight" across the board in four separate
categories--mental, physical, social and spiritual.
Most people correlate spirituality with religion, but according to
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) John Tiller, 31st Fighter Wing, being spiritually
disciplined is an understanding and sustainment of one's sense of self
and purpose in adverse conditions.
"When you're talking about combat, multiple deployments, the loss of
wingmen or anyone you care about, those are the types of things that
will really stress the way you think about life," said Tillery.
"Spiritual resiliency has a grounding effect. It's that spiritual depth
that can help you bounce back from even those difficult types of
Without a sense of value and worth, Tillery warns that service members
can invite feelings of inadequacy or stress into their daily lives.
"We see that without a spiritual aspect in someone's life, there's a
loss of optimism, hope and purpose. I think a lack of developing the
spiritual element results in a loss of a sense of purpose," said
Tillery. "Once you begin to move into an area of meaninglessness, then
that has a way of depressing you in your other areas. Your mental
activity then begins to revolve around very narrow and particular
things. Like, what do I have to do today? Must I get out of bed today?"
While each pillar of comprehensive fitness is equally important, some
believe that a person does not have the ability to be spiritually fit ,
yet be deficient in the other categories.
"I believe the pillars are inter-related and while I believe that a
person can be physically fit and not be emotionally or mentally fit, I
find it impossible to be spiritually fit and not be fit in every other
area as well," said Chief Master Sgt. William Harrington, 31st Logistics
Readiness Squadron, chief enlisted manager. "I just think it permeates
who we are in every other area because you have a sense of purpose and
drive. You must be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually fit
to deal with the ups and downs of military life."
Realizing what makes one passionate is the first step in exercising an individual's spiritual discipline.
"One thing a person should do, is reflect upon what your spiritual
beliefs are. It's hard to strengthen something that you don't know what
it is," said Tillery. "Sit down and think, 'What are the things that
give me self-worth?,' and 'What gets me up in the morning?,' or 'What is
it that keeps me optimistic about life?,' and once you sort those
things out, well then you can begin to strengthen those things."
Spiritual fitness can be demonstrated through an array of activities or
disciplines that bring someone a sense of connectedness. Activities such
as hiking, meditating, watching the sunrise in the morning or choosing
to express an individual's religious demeanor can all have an impact on
one's spiritual disciplines.
"Anything that is seen as greater than one's self has spiritual aspects
to it," said Tillery. "We're talking about values that give you worth as