Military News

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Global Strike Airmen join forces, discuss resiliency

by Senior Airman Joseph A. Pagán Jr.
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

4/29/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Airmen from Air Force Global Strike Command, and its numbered air forces and wings formed a Resiliency Tiger Team here, March 31 to April 1.

Created to empower Global Strike Airmen, the Resiliency Tiger Team provides an outlet for airmen to voice their ideas on combatting real life issues with realistic resiliency techniques. Ultimately, the team wants Airmen of all ranks to be prepared for hard times before they happen by seeking assistance from peers and leaders, and carefully contemplating how to respond.

"Airmen were selected by AFGSC command chiefs," said Tech. Sgt. Gina Scott, 90th Missile Wing Security Forces Squadron NCO in-charge of resource protection at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. "They wanted personnel with different perspectives from different bases to come together and provide ideas on how we could come up with a good foundation on reducing the number of suicides in the Air Force."

Candid discussion with peers plays an essential role in resiliency, not only in how to personally deal with obstacles, but also how to help other Airmen reinforce their mental, physical, social and spiritual domains when they're in need. Airmen divided into two facilitated groups to work through key issues by brainstorming better ways to cope with and alleviate stress, suicidal ideations and many other struggles that people face.  The schedule was intentionally packed to maximize the Airmen's time and ensure that no stone was left unturned in the arena of resiliency.  The capstone event had each group present their findings and recommendations to Command Chief Master Sgts. Terry West, AFGSC; Marty Anderson, 8th Air Force, and Tommy Mazzone, 2nd Bomb Wing.  Through a series of ideas, a resounding theme appeared--improved communication between Airmen and their leaders.

"The key component is fostering open lines of communication," said Staff Sgt. Anna Bailey, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. "If I'm not comfortable telling you about where I've been and the struggles I've been through, how are you going to be comfortable speaking with me?"

Team members challenged themselves and others to become more engaged leaders and to help others build relationships with their supervisors and peers to foster open lines of communication.

"Set your Airmen up for success so they can know what to expect from you," Scott said. "It also gives the Airmen a chance to tell their supervisor what they're about so it can foster relationships between supervisors and subordinates."

Scott described how well-established relationships, based on trust, build a solid foundation of resilience in our Airmen.

"You're not born with resiliency, you learn it," Scott said. "We go through different aspects of our life, we learn from it, and move forward. Our Airmen stumble and fall all the time; we pick them up, dust them off and put them back on the right track."

The Airmen who participated in the command initiative said they were grateful for their selection.

"This is a rewarding experience. It's a huge opportunity and could potentially be monumental," said Staff Sgt. Symphony Leyk, a 5th Security Forces Squadron alarm monitor from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. "It could redirect, rewrite history and rewrite lives. It could change everything, even the way we interact as human beings and how we complete each [Air Force] mission."

Two days of interaction and spirited discussion isn't nearly enough to find a lasting solution, but it does open lines of communication between ranks, mission sets and people of diverse backgrounds. Even more than unifying Airmen in a campaign for resiliency, it paved the way for innovative solutions to crush communication barriers and the stigma often associated with asking for help.

"We are the hands and feet of this world," Leyk said. "It's so refreshing to be able to go out and attempt to make change and be able to fulfill it. I hope I was able to give valuable information, and to be a voice, not only for our [Air Force] but for the future."

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