By Scott Prater
Citing a continued rise in the number of negative behavioral health trends throughout the Air Force during the past few years, Air Force Space Command has embarked on a new initiative.
Known as Comprehensive Airman Fitness, the initiative is slated to begin Jan. 1 and is designed to allow the command and its member installations to focus their efforts on taking care of Airman and their families.
“The Air Force is experiencing a lot of changes right now that are impacting AF members, DoD civilians and their families, “ said Christina Stump, chair of the Integrated Delivery System here. “One of the best ways to combat these impacts is through our resiliency. Comprehensive Airman Fitness represents a philosophy or methodology for improving our resiliency.”
The CAF initiative is modeled on the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness. It was first established inside the AF in Air Combat Command and showed so much promise that it is now being implemented in other major commands.
The initiative centers around four pillars of fitness (physical, social, spiritual and mental) and five actions (care, commit, connect, communicate and celebrate).
Chaplain (Capt.) Amber Kiesel, Team Schriever CAF coordinator, compared the initiative to 2009’s Year of the Air Force Family campaign, where each month was dedicated to a specific theme of family life.
“We’ll focus on a different pillar each quarter, and we hope to host events and functions themed around a designated pillar for that time of year,” she said. “For instance, our first pillar focus will be on physical health. So, we’ll host a Bod Pod competition, the first sergeants will hold a relay race, the health and wellness center will put on a runner’s clinic and we’ll advertise some of their nutrition and healthy cooking demonstrations. Also, the HAWC and the fitness center are currently working on hosting a sports day.”
Funding for the initiative will be provided by AFSPC, but organizations must submit an application and justify their requests.
“I’m excited about this initiative because it’s going to allow us to create some focused retreats at both the unit and base level,” Kiesel said. “The chaplain’s office hosted a retreat earlier this year at a beautiful place near Florrissant, Colo., and I think we’ll be able to use that top-quality area again.”
The idea behind CAF, Kiesel points out, is to make Schriever a healthier and more vibrant environment.
“I think it’s going to make us more productive because when you’re healthy you get a lot more work done. The squadron and unit commanders on base are already chomping at the bit to get funding for their ideas. Airmen should be able to take advantage of a lot of free or low cost activities.”
Though fun seems like a key ingredient to raising resiliency and improving the overall health of Airmen, DoD civilians and their families, the CAF initiative isn’t to be taken lightly. Air Force Space Command has a serious goal in mind and plans to track the effectiveness of the program.
Stump said the effort actually kicked off earlier this year when bases distributed a pre-CAF survey to service members and civilians.
Basically the survey provided a demographic of exactly where Team Schriever stands with regard to its resiliency as a community. She said it informed IDS members as to whether families had any special needs members, if they had been deployed and for how long, and how closely connected they felt to their social networks (families, friends, neighbors and fellow service members). It also covered each of the different pillars that fall under the CAF, including how they judged their resiliency in meeting the challenges of military life and how they felt physically and cognitively.
“This survey shows us where we stand and indicates some of the areas we need to improve or work on at our installation,” Stump said. “For example, if spouses are having a difficult time while their service member is deployed then we need to look into ways in which we can help them.”
Following the year-long initiative, CAF leaders will present Team Schriever members with a post CAF survey. Results will be analyzed and decisions made on how to proceed.
“This post initiative survey will provide quantitative results,” Stump said. “We want to know if the programs we offer are effective for people. This is how we are going to gauge that.”
Team Schriever members can find out more information by visiting the base website at www.schriever.af.mil and clicking on the Comprehensive Airman Fitness tab. Information is provided about the local and command-level CAF initiatives and participating organizations.