Team Schriever has observed Wingman Day for several years, but this December’s observance held special meaning for the base following the tragic loss of three members in November.
Col. Bill Liquori, 50th Space Wing commander, began the day by hosting a commander’s call where he thanked attendees for remaining resilient during a time of grief and encouraged everyone to remain focused on their teammates, friends and family.
“The way people came together in the face of both of these crises is second to none,” Liquori said. “I saw friends getting together with friends who were grieving in different ways. I saw commanders gathering with other commanders and offering assistance. We had support from across the base and across the Front Range within the first 30 minutes of the traffic crash.”
Organizers actually scheduled Wingman Day across three days. Team Schriever members participated in unit resiliency training and in workshops focused on a range of topics from spiritual wellness to effective communication techniques and managing mental health in the workplace.
Liquori provided guidance for the process in his commander’s call speech.
“If you think about nothing else during the course of the next couple days in your groups, working on wingman day and resiliency, dwell on what it is that you and your teammates did as a part of this recovery process, because it cannot be expressed in words how this organization came together,” he said. “We still have a ways to go in this process. We’ll continue to conduct our mission, but we’ll remain focused on the people portion of our team here, and rightfully so.”
During the past two years, Team Schriever members have been exposed to the concepts of the Air Force’s Comprehensive Airman Fitness program. Liquori said that while the ideas extolled throughout the program can help members combat challenges they face in their daily lives, they become particularly important in times like the present.
“Are you aware of your mental stressors and how adaptable you are to them?” he asked. “On the physical side, do you have the endurance and stamina and the healthy habits you need to be resilient in the face of adversity? On the social side, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a network of friends and wingmen as you deal with life stress. And on the spiritual side, there are many things that drive individuals. Be it religious beliefs or core values, you need to have something you believe strongly in.”
Liquori wrapped up his commander’s call by advising Team Schriever members to soak up the knowledge they would gain from experienced resilience trainers during the following days.
Wing staff members participated in interactive resilience training the same day.
Master Sgt. Erin French, 50th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant and Air Force master resilience trainer, facilitated the class. She focused her lecture around the four pillars of the Air Force CAF program and showed participants how each fits into creating a framework for building resilience.
Topics included counting blessings, maintaining an optimistic attitude, developing a growth mindset as opposed to living with a fixed mindset and not being afraid to ask for help from teammates and leaders.
She then relayed the story of Tech. Sgt. Israel Del Toro, a former joint terminal attack controller who suffered severe injuries while deployed with an Army unit in Afghanistan in 2005.
Del Toro suffered burns to 90 percent of his body, lost his nose, lips, ears and all the fingers of his left hand when the Humvee he was riding in rolled over an improvised explosive device.
“After everything he endured, his greatest fear was meeting his young son for the first time following his injuries,” French said. “When his son saw the father he knew instead of a gruesome monster, Del Toro knew he had the strength to move on. He bounced back. All anyone who is facing life struggles needs to do is look at Del Toro’s circumstances to find inspiration.”
French explained that life’s challenges make many of us question our own resilience, but that people should search for ways to strengthen their own individual resilience as well as that of their teammates’.
“Skeptics may ask why resilience matters,” she said. “For one, it affects performance. A lack of resilience negatively affects your health. It erodes your immunity to illness. Resilience also affects teamwork and leadership. Think about it this way. The people who are generating a positive demeanor become magnets. Other people want to be around them. They’ve obviously figured something out and others want some of that. Without even trying, these positive and resilient people are generating better teamwork in their work centers.”
She contended that resilience is perhaps even more important for leaders.
“If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re in no position to take care of your Air Force family members,” she said.
Liquori and Chief Master Sgt. Lavon Coles, 50 SW command chief, attended the training session and both spoke about the concepts discussed.
“We should relish the opportunity we’re presented with here,” Coles said. “I’m almost certain other organizations in America are not doing this. They are not rallying like we are to discuss some of the key issues we’re all presented with every day. Everyone, from Airmen to four-star generals have issues and problems, so we have to think about how we engage each other.”
Liquori left participants with a final thought.
“Don’t look at this as just another program,” he said. “It’s up to us to keep the concepts of resiliency and Comprehensive Airman Fitness going so that they don’t get thrown to the wayside.”
For more Comprehensive Airman Fitness information, visit www.my.af.mil.