The R Word

  • Published
  • By Col. Craig Wills
  • 39th Air Base Wing
We spend a lot of time talking about resiliency these days. If you're like me, you have to ask yourself the obvious question: Why is the Air Force obsessed with this subject, and why do they keep throwing new slogans, programs and ad campaigns at me? The simple fact is that the Air Force is worried about our Airmen.

There are a lot of reasons to worry. We've been at war for 13 years and our people have seen a lot of fighting, killing and dying. There are more things to do, and fewer Airmen to do them. We're force shaping, and quite a few good Airmen have been asked to leave. Divorce rates are at an all-time high, and more and more of us grew up in broken or dysfunctional homes.

The bottom line is that our force is under more stress than ever before, and our Airmen are less equipped to deal with it than any generation in history.

The resiliency campaign is designed to give you the tools you need to survive and thrive in the 21st century. Make no mistake, the Air Force cares a lot about you ... but we also need you to be combat ready, and resilience is a vital part of readiness. The bad news is that resilience isn't something we can issue you. We'll help you, but this is something that you're going to have to do by yourself.

We have a new way of explaining it, called RUFIT. The basic pillars haven't changed - you need to live a balanced life, including spiritual, physical, social, and financial fitness. You've probably heard these concepts before in many phases of your training. They are extremely important. Here are a few more things you might not have thought much about, which I think are just as important:

- Honor. Your honor is critical to your resilience. Live your life in a way that you can be proud of, every minute of every day. Your honor can never be taken from you...but you can give it all away in a heartbeat. When you act with integrity and honor, you won't lose sleep at night. Work at preserving your honor every day.

- The Pursuit of Excellence. You're an American Airman. Be the best - your country is counting on you. Win - Win - Win - Win. As George Patton said, Americans hate losing. Win at everything, every time. Losing should make you unhappy.

- Respect. Respect yourself. Believe in yourself. Don't hang out with losers. Don't let people bring you down. You deserve to be treated with respect, and the first step is respecting yourself. Respect other people too. Don't be a bad person.

- Self Discipline. When I'm living a disciplined and balanced life, I know that I can face any challenge. On the other hand, if I'm slacking, I know I'm set up to fail. Be disciplined if you want to succeed. There's a popular investment slogan that says "pay yourself first," and I agree. If you want to be successful, invest in a disciplined lifestyle. This doesn't mean you can't have any fun. It means you should be reliable, you should build good habit patterns, and you should tackle your life in a methodical way.

I love the fact that our Air Force wants to help me be a resilient and ready Airman, but I know at the end of the day, this is my job. Someday, I'll jump off this crazy train we call the Air Force. Trust me, no matter how senior you are, the Air Force won't even slow down when it's time for you to leave. You need to be ready to move on to the next chapter of your life ... and the investment you make in being a resilient person will pave the way for an incredible future.

The four pillars of RUFIT are awesome. In addition to the pillars, I ask you to think about Honor, Excellence, Self-Respect and Discipline as well.

I'm very proud to serve with you. Keep up the great work!