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It takes strength to seek assistance

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Ted Labedz
  • 90th Civil Engineer Squadron
We talk a lot about resiliency, and rightfully so. Life is full of unforeseen difficulties: our careers don't go as we planned, we experience relationship troubles and we get non-volunteered into retraining or assignments. However, so much of how we perceive our situation is based on how we react to life's unforeseen events. I'm not pretending that simply changing a mindset will resolve life's problems, but it can change the way we think about them. We can either sit around and passively wait, dwelling in self pity, or we can actively make a change in our lives -- even if it's only in how we think about it. As military members, we've been trained to take control of situations. Therefore, it is extremely uncomfortable when we feel like we are losing control of our lives, careers and relationships. It has to start with a mindset change. Even in the worst situation, we still have control over ourselves internally. I firmly believe that some good can come out of any situation, whether it is an opportunity to try something different, experience a new place, or start new relationships.

The people we choose to surround ourselves with inevitably become our support structure. Resiliency is not just about attending resiliency classes or talking with someone at the mental health center. While those are good resources, our families, units, church groups and other communities where we feel a sense of belonging lie at the core of our ability to make it through life's hard times. Nevertheless, there is no way to prepare for unexpected hardship, but having a support structure in place makes those times more bearable. Living in the military culture, we are often expected to conform to a certain emotional standard. There is an ill-conceived perception that as military members we are supposed to be able to handle life's curveballs unflinchingly without needing to ask for help. This couldn't be further from the truth. We are strong because we are a community and because we depend on one another.
Speaking from personal experience, I was in an unfortunate skiing accident in February. As I lay in the hospital for over a week, wondering how or if I was going to overcome my multiple injuries, my support network helped me every step of the way. I would not have made it through that experience without the help of my family, friends, coworkers, supervisor and commander. The bottom line is, because I had strong relationships and strong sense of community before my time of need, I had people I knew I could rely on in my time of need. I wasn't weak because I asked for help; I was strong because I had people who would carry me (literally) through that time. Resiliency embodies the wingman concept; it's about having our buddies' backs and knowing they have yours. If you are going through a hard time, reach out for help. If someone you know is going through a hard time, help them out. It will come back to you tenfold. We are all members of the military family, and good families help each other out.

We can all draw on experience when we have need to overcome something and did either a good job or a lousy job of moving past something in our lives.

As Airmen, we are all leaders, and it is our obligation as leaders to help those around us be ready to serve when our nation calls. This means helping one another through hard times in every aspect of our lives -- both duty- and non-duty-related. As Airmen we need to embrace the whole person concept. If someone is having trouble in their home life, then their mind isn't focused on the task at hand -- it's focused on how they are going to resolve their problems at home. This can lead to safety mishaps or substandard performance. If someone is having physical problems they aren't addressing, then they aren't fit to fight and have the potential to let their fellow Airmen down. We have to take care of each other because we need each other.

There is no silver bullet on how to handle life's challenges. Resiliency is an ongoing process and we all have our own ways of dealing with our circumstances. In a nutshell, I think the best approach is to reach out to those we know we can depend on, take control of how we think about life's challenges and embrace the wingman concept. Together we can make it through anything.