Four F’s essential to life in military


TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  — I have had a lot of my non-military friends ask me the question, “How have you made it for 24 years in the military?”  Looking back, I realized that I already had a form of what the Air Force now calls Comprehensive Airman Fitness:  Mental, Social, Spiritual and Physical Fitness. I call it, the four F’s:  Family, Faith, Friends and Fitness (this last one came about much later in my career).

Family is different for everyone at different stages of life.  Your family right now might be a spouse, parent, brother or sister, another extended family member that you are close to, or all of the above.  My wife Dawn and I got married right before I joined the Air Force.  She is the backbone of our family and the reason I have been successful in my career.  I didn’t worry about the “little things”:  bills, grocery shopping, laundry, etc.  Never mind the fact that Dawn worked outside our home as well as taking care of all of those “little things”.  Make it a point to call someone in your family this week and thank them for their support and sacrifice over the years that enabled you to be successful at what you do.

Friends come in all flavors as well:  Old friends, new friends and sort-of friends.  You may have joined with a friend, or to get away from “those friends”.  We could have many assignments over the course of a career and will potentially make a lot of friends across the country and world.  More than likely, you will really connect with a person or two, maybe military, maybe not, who really stand out as true friends for the ages.  These are the ones that when there is a crisis or special moment in your life that you want to share you will call, text, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever is the popular app of the month.

Faith is not third on my list, but sadly, sometimes it is.  Fortunately, it is something I can always turn to, no matter how long I have been away.

Fitness came along late in my career.  All of a sudden I started to like to run, to go to the gym and it’s a good thing to, because in case you haven’t noticed, fitness is kind of a big deal in the Air Force these days.  Now I use running and working out as a way to help myself relax, to burn off the stress at the end of a long day or week and sometimes to get me pumped up for the day ahead.

Due to the nature of life, sometimes my four F’s get out of balance and one will take precedence over another.  A family crisis can take over everything else for a period of time.  Special projects at work, studying for promotion takes up months of evenings and weekends, crowding out both family and friends.  Oh yeah, don’t forget fitness has to fit in there somewhere.

A lot of these overlap:  Family and Fitness go together.  Friends and Fitness, you get the point.

Sometimes I neglect one or more of these items for days, weeks, sometimes even months.  Then I will get it together, balance out my life and rest my priorities only to have something else push into the mix.  For the past 16 months, I have been geographically separated from my family, my daughters just moved away for school I am out of balance.  No one in my life has gotten 100 percent of what they needed or deserved from me:  not my wife, my kids, my friends or honestly, the Air Force.

It’s time to reset.