Commentary

July 13, 2012

Resiliency: A challenge at any pay grade

By Chief Master Sgt. Kurt Schmidtman
57th Operations Support Squadron

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Promotion to chief master sergeant is often seen as one of the ultimate accomplishments in an enlisted members’ career. Yet as a Chief, it can seem like one is expected to be impervious to outside pressures simply because we have years of experience in dealing with personnel issues of every description.

In my experience, proud Air Force members of every age and grade stoically absorb every manner of stress until there is an event that makes the “water rise above the nose.” Then, and that is still a maybe, Airmen might seek help.

I discovered the hard way this is the wrong approach.

My tenure here is my only experience as a Chief. Upon arrival from Aviano Air Base, Italy, with my wife and high school graduate daughter, we were greeted with a break-in to our only automobile, resulting in the theft of my PCS briefcase. This had our medical records in it.

Then, we purchased of a lemon of a used car, and experienced the shock associated with acclimating to the USA via a downtown high rise apartment in Las Vegas.

This was compounded by the loneliness experienced by my daughter and by her anxiety about heading off to college, which coincided with my spouse’s disappointment in being undervalued following her obtaining her bachelor’s degree in a depressed economy.

I took this all in and factored my own “shock and awe” at the Air Force responsibilities I was assuming, along with some moderate financial issues our family was facing, and slipped, ever so gradually, into depression.

My reaction to depression was a shutdown of what seemed to me to be “non-essential” efforts, in deference to keeping a grip on the most important aspects of my life: my family, followed closely by the U.S. Air Force.

Unfortunately, the “non-essential” effort I chose was staying physically active. Without a corresponding change in diet, I ballooned to an unacceptably heavy state, which literally made it difficult to tie my shoes. This trend was a real threat to my career and in result, to my family.

From this low point, my family and my chain of command, with the help of Air Force programs, united to save me from myself.

My family encouraged me, without being a pain, to make changes and gave me extended encouragement for minor victories.

The chain of command gave great support while holding the line, maintaining standards. It was very therapeutic knowing that neither my or the unit’s integrity ever came in question.

Counseling and fitness programs further aided me in making the life changes, which culminated in my losing 40 pounds, cutting 5 inches from my waist, reducing my run time 3 minutes and improving my relations at home immeasurably.

Now, my service to the Air Force has never been sweeter.

I hope no one else has to travel down this road to visit the lows that I have. Instead, I simply ask that you take my word that early identification and becoming a willing participation in the management of problems may give you great satisfaction without the burden of my experience.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

April is America’s PrepareAthon month

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Everyone plays an important role in bolstering our preparedness for hazards of all types. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has launched the “America’s PrepareAthon” campaign to build and sustain national preparedness. Thousands of individuals, organizations, schools, and local governments across the nation are actively participating in America’s Pr...
 
 

Who has heard of Special Victims’ Counsel?

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — When I first briefed the Special Victims’ Counsel Program at Right Start and First Term Airman Center briefings here, audience participation was slim to none. It appeared as though the group I briefed was not interested in learning more about our program or that they didn’t know anything about...
 
 

Ten seconds later, that picture still exists

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — There is a conversation many teenagers have had with their parents or friends, me included. “Hey, don’t worry! It’ll be fine; all of the pictures I send disappear after 10 seconds. That’s how Snapchat works.” While many teenagers only share their silly, cross-eyed, quadruple-chinned faces with friends, there are a...
 

 

Becoming stronger through failure

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. — Failing the Air Force physical training test was my greatest fear since joining the military. It is embarrassing to admit recently that fear came to fruition, but what I have learned through that failure has become one of my greatest strengths. After failing, I definitely felt like a weak...
 
 

Sexual assault survivor: ‘You are not alone’

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — I remember the day like it was yesterday. My heartbeat echoed in my head as I attempted to dry my sweaty hands on my jeans. I was 21 years old, sitting in a Korean court room, waiting to be questioned by prosecutors. How I ended up there was unreal. Just...
 
 

Everyone has a story to tell

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. —  We tend to believe that just because we haven’t won a Nobel Prize or survived a horrific event that our stories are not worth telling.  This notion is false; your story is worth telling. We often get caught up on other peoples’ stories, whether it is that of a famous...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin