Commentary by Lt. Col. Scott Trinrud
4th Space Operations Squadron commander
Recently, the Colorado Springs community encountered a huge challenge in the form of the Waldo Canyon fire which destroyed approximately 18,000 acres and roughly 350 homes evacuated. The historic Flying W Ranch was also destroyed during the fire, which was truly woven into the fiber of this community throughout the past 60 years as a key tourist attraction with singing cowboys and chuck wagon suppers. The Waldo Canyon fire was a tragic event, one that will be remembered in the history of this strong community for years to come. In light of this terrible event, I would like to explore what ultimately should be remembered and what we can learn. With resilience and support, we can make it through any challenge we face.
The massive outpouring of support in the midst of this tragedy demonstrated how a strong support network strengthens the feeling of family within the community, thus enabling resiliency. During the initial phases of the fire, people were evacuated from their homes with little notice. Did we see people, stop and panic with frustration and anxiety? No, instead we saw people opening their homes to friends, family, neighbors and, in some cases, complete strangers. In fact, several wing members were evacuated and found shelter within minutes from their support systems. We saw a community that donated more than 1 million pounds of goods to the local food bank. We saw people volunteer at Red Cross shelters, food pantries or wherever they were needed. Then, just a few days later, the community assembled a benefit concert at the World Arena to support this community and those in need. During the concert, there were performers from the Flying W Ranch entertaining the community once again and the owner vowed they would rebuild. What a powerful message this sends. Just days after losing the ranch, they were ready to come back and get after it. Even the interviews of people returning to scorched homes and barren lots sent a clear message: we will persevere, rebuild and overcome this tragic event.
This is the same type of resiliency and togetherness we must maintain in our Air Force. We all have our ups and downs as we go through life. They can range from health problems with family members, divorce, financial problems to varying levels of reprimand. The true measure of resiliency is how we handle these challenges. We can choose to curl up, lick our wounds and lament our woes. Or we can heal, rebound and take on the day like the people of Colorado Springs just did. So no matter how bad you may feel, just remember, your Air Force family is always here for you.
The Airmen and Family Readiness Center has a ton of resources and classes. They can help with budgeting, parenting, big purchases or just offer a place to relax. We have first sergeants who can help find resources or give some “parental” advice. We have chaplains who are always ready to listen. Lastly, we all have wingmen who are always ready to help on the job or after hours.
It might be possible to rebound from problems on your own; but as our city just demonstrated, it sure is a lot easier to rebound and persevere when you have someone in your corner.