Florida Air National Guardsmen and their families got fit December 2 at the 125th Fighter Wing.
By Tech. Sgt. William Buchanan, 125th Fighter Wing
/ Published December 05, 2012
Jennifer Mathews, director of psychological health for the 125FW, coordinated with all the first sergeants at the fighter wing to address Airmen's fitness needs. -- Needs such as better sleep, money management and staying physically fit during the holidays were voiced by the Airmen themselves via a questionnaire collected in April. Less than a year later, leadership responded to those voices by creating the Comprehensive Airman Fitness Day.
"It's similar somewhat to a 'wingman's day' because of the overall goal, but this is definitely a new thing," Mathews said. "Let us know what your need is because we're going to advocate to try to bring what we can to meet the needs of the wing."
The day was structured around the Four Pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness (CAF). The original concept was a holistic approach to human wellness that included physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellness. Using this program as a framework, 13 classes were created within the four pillars to meet the needs of all Florida Guardsmen and their families.
The goal of the four pillars program is to increase each individual's overall resilience to life's challenges and stressors. Resilience has become somewhat of a buzzword among military leadership because it fully personifies the necessary servicemember qualities of adaptability and fortitude. Command Chief Master Sgt. Sharon Ervin said this program goes by different names in different settings, but the key dimensions, or "pillars," remain the same.
"It's basically a total concept of the airmen, not just what they do in their jobs but making sure they take care of everything, because the idea is the better we can take of them overall, the more ready they are going to be to deploy," said Laura Yates, Airman and Family Readiness program manager for the 125FW.
To organize the many classes and events held that day, Mathews teamed up with Yates and Lt. Col. Lanaghan, head of the Integrated Delivery System (IDS) at the 125FW. The IDS evaluates Airmen's issues to provide guidance and solutions to all available difficulties. Together, the team analyzed the questionnaire, developed the class list and recruited qualified instructors.
"We have a variety of instructors from military members to chaplains to civilians, and the civilians that are going to be presenting have worked with the military," Yates said. "These are people are very well educated and versed in their field, so the level of speakers that these folks are going to get are really good quality, not just some Joe off the street."
To help maximize attendance and minimize inconvenience, leadership also offered free childcare to Airmen in classes. Childcare was provided by Operation Military Kids, a U.S. Army program originally created to provide a community of support for military families impacted by deployments. The program now works in every state with every branch of the military as well as partnering with 4-H programs to provide recreational, social and educational programs to military youth.
Along with knowledge of the four pillars, the first 150 Airmen who attended classes were rewarded with "swag bags." Assembled by volunteers, these bags were filled with water bottles, notebooks and a plethora of information about various support programs available to servicemembers and their families.
"Anytime you can give somebody something or just offer them an incentive it makes sense," Yates said.
Classes were scheduled from 8:00 a.m. until 10:45 a.m. At that time, Airmen and their families were invited to celebrate together at the 125FW family holiday party held on base. The holiday party is an annual event held to bring together the many families that make up the Guard families.
"The goal or the message of the day is we care about our airmen, they're important, and we want to be addressing their concerns and being there to help them," Yates said. "If there's things that we can do to make them a better person, whether it's here at the guard base or out in the community, we want to do that."