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Rainier Wing focuses on wellness

Breaking Barriers by Capitalizing on Strengths

Reserve citizen airmen from the 446th Airlift Wing pull on a rope during a tug-of-war competition Aug. 4 at McChord Field. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Bryan Hull

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Reserve citizen airmen assigned to the 446th Airlift Wing, and their families, focused on wellness Aug. 4 and 5 during a weekend dedicated to promoting strength and wellness at McChord Field.

"Wingman and Family Days are essential," said Maj. Gen. Randall Ogden, commander of the Fourth Air Force. "Supporting our airmen and their families is so critical. When airmen and their families feel connected and part of the team, it helps to build that esprit de corps and gives us a sense of community."

During this year's Wellness Weekend, Ogden and Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White, Fourth Air Force command chief, visited the Rainier Wing and participated alongside airmen in a friendly sports challenge, provided mentoring sessions, and attended a Tacoma Rainiers' baseball game with members and their families.

"Chief White and I had a lot of fun this weekend," said Ogden. "We see each other as fellow human beings, where we can just laugh, share food, and build those relationships that are so critical in what we do day-to-day, and especially when we deploy together."

This year, the Rainier Wing's theme was "Breaking Barriers by Capitalizing on Strengths." With special emphasis placed on the importance of utilizing strengths to overcome barriers in life, Ogden also touched on the four pillars of Comprehensive Airmen Fitness.

"We talk about being physically fit, mentally fit, emotionally fit, and spiritually fit, and all these things are so important," said Ogden. "We live in a world that is so fast-paced, especially as a citizen airman balancing work, family and the Air Force Reserve, we can get pretty disconnected going from one thing to the next. Wingman Days help us give airmen the skills to help cope with the difficulties of this, through team-building exercises and sporting events."

While the various sporting events were highlights during the Wellness Weekend, mentoring sessions were instrumental in teaching airmen about their strengths and how to best use them.

"When you can identify your own personal strengths as well as the strengths of others, and find opportunities to use those strengths, you can work through the barriers that life is going to constantly throw in your path," said Col. Sean Pierce, commander of the 446th AW. "Capitalizing on our strengths supports our mission to be combat-ready."

In order to help Rainier Wing airmen hone in on their individual strengths, members took a survey to help them better understand what their individual strengths are.

"The values in action survey was completed during wingman day breakout sessions, and most, if not all of the wing, was able to complete the survey," said Kristi McCann, Director of Psychological Health for the Rainier Wing. "This will help Rainier Wing airmen to understand what makes them unique in a team setting or relationship setting. We want to help them shift gears from focusing on the negative bias of life to focus on the things that are more productive and positive."

McCann added that by using the concept of the resiliency theme, it allows us to focus and celebrate the strengths of people and their wellness.

"Showing airmen how to recognize their strengths and how to use those strengths helps them to be healthier mentally, healthier physically, have healthier relationships and healthier work productivity," said McCann. "Going forward, we will be offering additional workshops designed around the resiliency theme each month.

In addition to the individual focus of airmen and their wellness, spouses and families were also discussed.

"The key spouse program goes back to establishing that sense of community for our families," said Odgen. "Reservists have some support systems in place with their units, but we still need each other as we typically only spend one weekend a month learning and refining our warfighting skills."

The average American doesn't have the extra strain like military members do, Ogden said. But the key spouse program wants to provide support and resources to families, he stressed.

"It provides an opportunity for the spouses of Reserve citizen airmen to connect with others that are going through the same thing," said Ogden. "It also provides that communication piece that families need when their spouse is deployed. Some airmen and their families may not even need help, but we want to ensure that they know there is a network of people who care about them, and that they can reach out in that time of need."

Ogden stressed that wellness is very important, and Wingman and Family Day provides an opportunity to train and equip our airmen so they can be a good wingman for their coworkers.

"We are not unique in the fact that we all have struggles in life," said Ogden. "We need to communicate to our airmen, that they are not alone. You have other airmen who have been through difficult times as well; and they have strengths that can help others in tough times, and have come out even tougher on the other side."

Lastly, Ogden stressed the importance of having Wingman and Family Days.
"Wingman Days and Family Days help us to focus on every member in the unit and their families," Ogden said. "It shows that they are valued and a part of the team, which helps to make us stronger."

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