What is resiliency?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Walt Koelln
  • 94th Airlift Wing Chief of Safety
Resiliency: The ability to withstand, recover and/or grow in the face of stressors and changing demands. (Source - Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury)

The objective of 2011 Wingman Day is to reinforce the Wingman concept as the foundation to building resilient Airmen. The goal is to encourage Airmen to be vigilant and resilient by enhancing their Wingman skills. Wingman Day offers a pause in the day-to-day mission focus of Airmen in order to reinforce the Wingman concept, build resilient Airmen, and focus on unit wellness.

Resilience is the ability to withstand, recover and/or grow in the face of stressors and changing demands. We can be ready for those stressors and changing demands by continuously building our resiliency skills. Resilience encompasses the total person to include physical, mental, social, and spiritual fitness. Being fit in these four areas allows Airmen to be resilient when faced with difficult situations. The Wingman concept is more than an event; it is a culture of Airmen taking care of Airmen 24/7, 365 days a year.

The Wingman concept emphasizes awareness, accountability, team building, and communication. Deficits in resiliency can lead to problematic behaviors which can include suicide, alcohol misuse, family discord, violent or reckless behaviors, and preventable on and off duty mishaps resulting in injury or death. By emphasizing the skills that maximize functioning, our aim is to minimize maladaptive patterns of thought/behavior.

Preventable mishaps degrade combat readiness, bring pain and suffering to Airmen and their families, and levy a financial burden on the American taxpayer. The Air Force goal is to eliminate on and off duty preventable mishaps caused by careless or reckless behaviors such as speeding, alcohol use, inattention, fatigue, not using seatbelts or other personal protective equipment, and general failure to engage in thoughtful risk management.

Resiliency training includes skills/strategies that all Airmen and civilians need to possess in some measure. Those skills can be focused into four categories of wellness: Physical, Social, Mental, and Spiritual. Being mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually fit will allow Airmen to successfully face stressors. Everyone needs help from time to time and seeking help is a sign of strength. A good Wingman (peer or family member) helps coworkers/family/friends when challenging situations arise.

Resources are available to help build resiliency. Available resources include:

Military members and families: Family, Friends, Wingman, Co-workers, Chaplain, Mental Health, Primary Care Doctor, and/or Airmen and Family Readiness Center.

Civilians: Family, Friends, Wingman, Co-workers, Chaplain, Airmen and Family Readiness Center, Employee Assistance Program, and/or Civilian Health Promotion Services.

Leadership at all levels must encourage everyone to be the "best" possible Wingman, and exercise these skills and act when applicable to be successful. Encourage members to appropriately seek help when needed and use available resources. Encourage civilian and family participation. Maintain unit-level focus and emphasize discussion, interaction, communication, and team building.