Joint Base Charleston


Resiliency ... make it more than a buzzword

By Col. Judith Hughes | 628th Medical Group commander | May 15, 2013

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- My family and I were watching television this week when a commercial came on promoting resiliency. We commented on how popular that word has become as I have even heard it referred to as the "new Air Force buzzword" during past Wingman day events.

But interestingly, I ask every group of newcomers to the medical group if they have ever heard of Comprehensive Airman Fitness or CAF and I still get a lukewarm response at best. There is just not a clear link or understanding yet between CAF and resiliency. When Air Mobility Command adopted the philosophy of CAF, it promoted the premise that our Air Force ... our individual Airmen ... can become more resilient. Resiliency is something that can be nurtured and developed in Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and their families! There is strong research that supports when a person behaves positively in everyday situations, it shapes how they react when tough times hit.

In July 2008, my daughter was involved in a serious jet-ski crash, hitting a brick sea wall at full throttle on a stand-up jet-ski resulting in a significant head injury. She had to be life-flighted to a children's trauma hospital and spent two days on a ventilator and 10 days in ICU before she even could speak. I will never forget that day or the anguished call I got from my son telling me that my daughter had been hurt. I was a busy squadron commander and had just dropped my car off to be shipped overseas as we were preparing to PCS to Hawaii. Our household goods were packed and we were living out of suitcases. I was trying to sell a condominium in Florida and the air-conditioning unit had just stopped working. There were a lot of stressors in my life but I want to highlight the fact that we weathered the storm. My daughter had an amazing recovery after five weeks in the hospital and returned to school in the fall. We still PCS-ed to Hawaii, and I was promoted to the rank of colonel and selected for the awesome opportunity to command the 628th Medical Group. I am convinced that routine resiliency habits helped me get through a tough place and made us a stronger family in the end.

I am confident that intentional actions/work on my part to make connections in the spiritual, mental, social and physical pillars of my life before my daughter's accident ever occurred helped me cope and prevented a total personal and professional meltdown. I had a lot of help from great Wingmen.

I work with a resilient group of Airmen, Sailors and civilians every day. They all have challenges and struggles, but many choose to make great choices and persevere. I am confident it is because they have some strong personal and/or family habits that help them build resiliency on a daily/weekly basis. Hopefully many of you have heard of the five Cs: Caring, Connecting, Committing, Communicating, and one of my favorites - Celebrating. They are all great ways to help promote and build resiliency in individuals, in units and in families - I am living proof they work!

Our major command has mandated eight hours of resiliency training for all Airmen. I encourage each of you to look forward to this training and line up to be next to go in your unit. Make the effort to actively grow resiliency in your own environments instead of dismissing it as the next AF buzzword. Getting good at new things can be hard but it really is never too late to learn.

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