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Personal resilience: Investing in individuals

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD -- In January 2012, the Air Force provided Air Force District of Washington staff members with an opportunity to explore resilience during Wingman Day.

Everyone knows that the business of the Air Force is to implement policy, execute programs, and support the war fighting mission. Yet, we spent an entire day as an AFDW Logistics, Installation and Mission Support (A4/7) family, enjoying a playful environment which supported personal growth and development. To some people working in the federal government, this may seem weird and unusual.

The Air Force has found our capability to perform the work we are paid to do depends on our capability to integrate all the demands in our lives with our work.
 
I applaud the Air Force for understanding that life is full of stress, at home and at work; and that physical and emotional development can affect us and the people we work with in numerous, sometimes unnoticed ways.

I have more than 16 years of federal experience with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The personal and emotional support I received there was considerably different, and less, than what I have experienced while working for the Air Force.

The Air Force offers many ways in which we can grow and develop as people, both inside and outside of work responsibilities. Specifically, Air Force civilians may participate in volunteer opportunities, use base recreational facilities, attend support groups and counseling sessions, and receive extensive training in various career fields. 

The Air Force community is actually very small, and we can expect to work with folks in our extended families again; so we are encouraged to build relationships transcending normal workplace activities.

I have almost 20 years invested in the Air Force as a civilian, and the Air Force has that same investment in me. As we mature in age and overall experience, we bring additional confidence and skill to our work. That is the payoff for the Air Force. Our personal payoff comes as our workplace becomes an extension of our family for many of our needs.

Earlier this year, I experienced one of life's greatest challenges- losing a loved one. My husband of almost 50 years had surgery, spent three months in various hospitals, and unexpectedly died. I am blessed that I have a nuclear family to support and nurture me in my grief, and double-blessed that my investment in church and Air Force communities resulted in an outpouring of love and support from them that strengthened me through the loss, sadness and stress. I am bouncing back and able to perform my work now at a professional level because my various families supported me through the darkest days.

Thank you Air Force, and thank you friends and colleagues in A4/7.

I believe personal resilience in or out of the workplace is a community work-in-progress, not an individual endeavor. Like many things in life, we get out of it what we put into it. Taking advantage of the opportunities the Air Force offers to grow and develop is well worth our effort, even if sometimes it seems like play rather than work.