NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Every day, Airmen face challenges ranging from miniscule work related tasks to important family concerns. Without the proper tools to manage the stress these challenges can cause, it may hinder workplace performance.
One of the tools provided to Airmen is the Comprehensive Airmen Fitness program. CAF is designed to strengthen an Airman’s readiness by solidifying the four parts of fitness. These parts, or pillars, are physical, social, mental, and spiritual.
The goal of the CAF program is to help Airmen, Air Force civilians and family members become more resilient and better-equipped to deal with the rigors of military life.
“[Originally] when we used the word fitness, the thought that came to mind was physical fitness, running, pushups, sit-ups, etc.,” said Erik Christensen, 99th Air Base Wing community support coordinator.
The Air Force has now recognized that although physical strength is vital for the well-rounded Airman, it is no more important than the other three pillars.
“In order to excel in the challenging environment of the U.S. Air Force you need to be as strong as you can possibly be. Not just be physically strong, but strong across all four pillars,” Christensen said.
The CAF program stemmed from the already successful Comprehensive Soldier Fitness created by the U.S. Army.
Resilience is not something that one is born with, but rather something that can be taught and learned.
“Research has shown that when individuals go through something traumatic, they come out stronger or more resilient,” Christensen said. “The thought [behind CAF] is that maybe there’s a way to get the resilience without having to go through a horrible event.”
Strengthening the physical pillar is the focus of this quarter.
Physical resilience is the cornerstone of an Airman’s comprehensive fitness; it is linked to mental toughness and is absolutely critical for the U.S. Air Force’s long term ability to protect the nation.
“[Strengthening] the physical pillar is pretty straightforward,” Christensen said.
It is important to remember that the physical pillar is not exclusively about the physical act of exercising.
The other parts of include understanding the importance of nutrition, sleep patterns and sleep hygiene.
“If you’re big and strong and I sleep deprive you, you will no longer be mission effective,” Christensen said. “We’ve known for centuries, that if someone is physically in bad condition, sleep deprived, or poor nutrition, or poor exercise habits, they’re less effective. Healthy troops are a force multiplier.”
For additional information on resilience support contact the following base agencies:
To strengthen physical resilience, the Warrior Fitness Center offers a variety of workout programs to include an equipment fundamentals class, a cardio club, and row across the Atlantic, a club, where Airmen use the aerobic rowing machines and row the distance between Miami, Fla. to Lisbon, Portugal for a total of 4,157 miles. For more information on other fitness related activities contact the fitness center staff at (702) 652-4891.
To improve nutrition and sleep habits, contact Health and Wellness Center at (702) 653-3375.
For Airmen looking to strengthen the mental resilience, the Family Advocacy offers a variety of services available to all active duty members and their families including individual, couple and family counseling, parenting and child development education, victim advocacy, and community outreach. For more information on Family Advocacy programs call (702) 653-3866.
The Mental Health Clinic works with resources base wide, including a collaborative relationship with other health care partners, and a post-traumatic stress disorder group with Occupational Therapy that provides adjunct treatments including art therapy and exposure to therapy dogs.
Mental Health practitioners are plugged into high risk units to get to know their culture and de-stigmatize mental health care. Contact the Mental Health Clinic for more information on all the services they offer at (702) 653-3880.
Active duty members requiring information on alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment can call the ADAPT office at (702) 653-3880. They offer evaluations, education and prevention briefings and treatment for alcohol, drugs and gambling. ADAPT does not treat dependents or retirees.
The 99th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Center provide a variety of services and activities for individuals and families affected by deployment. They have pamphlets, books and videos discuss how to prepare for a deployment, cope with separation and come back together as a family. Other materials help single people, who have different issues, prepare for deployment. They also offer monthly events to bring deployed families together for fun. Contact the A&FRC at (702) 652- 3327.
Airmen seeking faith based guidance or other forms of counsel may contact the Chaplain’s office.. The chaplains provide pastoral care by conducting worship services and confidential counseling. The chapel is here to support the religious needs of all Air Force members. If they don’t provided opportunities for your faith group, please feel free to contact the Base Chaplain at (702) 652-2950.
Airmen looking to strengthen their resilience with outdoor activities, such as canoeing, hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving contact the 99th FSS Outdoor Recreation at (702) 652-2514.
Strengthening the physical resilience of an Airman along with the three other pillars are all done to ensure Airmen are ready to complete the mission of the Air Force.
Editor’s Note: This feature is the first of a three part series highlighting vital elements for the overall wellbeing of Airmen.