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NEWS | March 13, 2013

Protecting our most valued resource in austere times

By Chief Master Sgt. Earl Hannon 628th Air Base Wing command chief

As the initial shock of sequestration settles in and begins to take effect, uncertainty and frustration will most assuredly abound. How will we get the mission done? Where will we get the money to maintain equipment or facilities? Who will sustain this program or initiative? Many of the things we have done for years or become accustomed to over time are suddenly at risk for being significantly changed or completely discontinued.

In the austere times ahead, we will most likely see coworkers leave with no backfill. We may see equipment break with no parts to repair them. We may see supplies dwindle with little money to replace them. But, as warriors in the most lethal fighting force in the world, we refuse to allow the mission to fail - we will do most anything to ensure mission success. And for this very reason, it is during times like these when we see superstars rise to the call. Some military members may be driven to work even longer hours and take on their former contemporary's workload. Others may be compelled to refine processes and find new ways to save time or money. Still others may consider reaching into personal resources to sustain work center operations. Out of necessity, we will witness uniformed members and civilians alike perform Herculean acts to keep the mission moving forward in a constrained environment with new limitations on resources and work hours. But as we unite to meet this challenge, it is equally important to remember - and make time - to take care of ourselves and each other.

As our schedules become busier, our physical wellness is most often the first to go. We skip our workout routines to catch an extra half-hour of sleep or get a jump on the day's workload. We hit a fast food drive-through or the office snack bar at mealtime to minimize our time away from the job. In close second is our mental wellness. As external stressors build in our lives - and perhaps as we begin to feel guilty about skipping our morning workout or eating that half-pound double cheeseburger - our mental wellness becomes more at risk.

We can often begin to feel down and may likely either lash out at those closest to us or withdraw from them altogether. And this, of course, can also have a direct negative effect on our social wellness. Similarly, if we do not make time for our physical wellness, we are just as likely to ignore our spiritual wellness. Aside from not making the time, we most often neglect to refresh our body-mind-spirit connection because we are too preoccupied with all the tasks we are not accomplishing at that very moment. Sometimes we must simply "unplug" from the bustle of our daily lives for a little while and simply clear our minds. Otherwise, those stressors just continue to build.

While I am not suggesting sequestration will certainly lead to the demise of our very wellbeing, it is important, now more than ever, that we pay close attention to every facet of our wellness. The four pillars of wellness are like those of a four-legged stool; even a small deficiency in any one area will cause us to be out of balance. And like that stool, our lives will be unstable and we may even fall. So as we deal with the challenging times ahead, I encourage each of you to make time to take care of yourself and your family members, and watch out for your wingman, shipmate or battle-buddy. We are counting on you.