Tuesday, March 18, 2014

building resilience in Air Force families

Yesterday I wrote about my emotional bathtub and how sometimes a lot of little stressors add up to be a big deal.  Tomorrow I'll have one more post about resilience, so check back for that!

Today I’m writing about Resilience, which is important for all of us, but especially for military families.  I'm partnering with the Offutt Spouse Resilience team.  I received no compensation for writing this post and all opinions are my own.  

Resilience is like finding the plug on that emotional bathtub.  The water (stressors) will keep on coming and it might not drain as quickly as you’d like, but by keeping it unplugged, you ensure the bathtub isn’t going to overflow.

Let’s be honest here: as military families, we all know that Murphy’s Law is never truer than during deployment.  Here’s one example: on the very day her husband was set to deploy (again), my friend found out that their house had a natural gas leak, the dog needed emergency surgery, and her children had the stomach flu.  Talk about an overwhelming day!

Here at Offutt AFB, resilience has been the new buzzword!  Our Wing Commander and his wife have championed a Resilience program that has been growing over the past few months.  Active Duty members can be trained in 12 modules and become a Resilience Training Assistant (RTA), qualified to help teach resilience to their squadron.  Two spouses, Aimee Salter and Joy Draper, have taken on the task on making resilience training for spouses.  These ladies have been through the RTA training and adapted it into five modules that are most applicable to military families.

Resilience training, according to Aimee is “about learning how to effectively deal with stress and challenges we face on a daily basis, increasing effective communication, and strengthening healthy relationships.”  Joy wrote about the resilience program saying: “The training is based on the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness - Physical, Social, Spiritual, and Mental… Our goal is to build stronger families in today's Air Force. These training modules will help build a toolkit for handling every day difficulties that pop up. We hope to reach out to the spouses and assist them in becoming more resilient and, therefore, benefiting the active duty members, the squadrons, and the mission of the Air Force.”

I’ve been through three of the modules already and am planning a resilience briefing for our squadron.  I love how Aimee and Joy are passionate about resilience because they’ve needed it in their own lives!  They give practical and easy steps to start practicing resilience in your family.  Resilience is something we all need – it isn’t just for families in crisis.  Learning these techniques and incorporating them into your family life will build a solid foundation that will make you a stronger individual, which, in turn, makes a stronger family and a stronger Air Force.  I asked Aimee and Joy if they would let me share about this program on my blog because I believe that it can make a difference. 

To find out more about the Offutt Spouse Resilience, check out their Facebook page (and ‘Like’ it to stay updated on events!!) and also this news article!  I really hope that if you’re stationed here at Offutt you take advantage of this program!  I am passionate about this program so you'll probably see me at some of the events.

And if you’re at another base and think this sounds like something you would like to see at your base, contact your AFRC and ask if there’s anything in the works!

p.s. if you’re a military spouse, take a moment and share your Murphy’s Law moments of deployment, TDY, or PCS!  We all have a story like that, don’t we? 

Click here for the next post in this series!


  1. This is awesome! Resilience is one of my favorite things about human beings. Really, everyone would benefit from learning how to promote resilience in themselves, their children, their family, and their community. I'm so glad that you are getting training in this. If you ever want to read more psychological research on this topic, just let me know- I have a whole folder of articles I'd be happy to share.

  2. Murphy's Law and I got to be on a more personal level this deployment. I bought our house while my husband was still in Germany. As soon as he inprocessed here at Hood, he deployed. A few short weeks later, I found bed bugs in two bedrooms. Yup, they really do exist. Who knew? I tried to get rid of them on my own, thought I was doing a good job, and then found them in the other 2 bedrooms. While the exterminators came in and out, I moved out (literally, everything had to go in the garage) for 3 months, spent my time putting 10,000 miles on my car, splitting my time between my parents and inlaws. When I got the go ahead to move back in, I had to literally do 100 loads of laundry, if not more. Everything had to be washed on high heat and dried for an hour. My washer quit working on the first load and my dryer had always been terrible. So, I had to buy a new washer and dryer. Then, we had made plans to re-do our fence as soon as my husband got home. A wind storm knocked it down a week ago. Then, I found a lump on my deployment furbaby of 7 years, took him to the vet where he picked up kennel cough.

    He comes home in a couple of days, thank God!

  3. Bekah, I agree - resilience is for everyone! And I'd love for you to pass on a couple articles when you have a chance!

  4. Oh man! That sounds like an awful, horrible deployment! I'm so glad it's almost over for you!

    Also, bed buds were going around college campuses while i was in college and in our RA training we got a briefing on what to look for - I think I scratched for about an hour after that because I kept thinking about them!

  5. The Resilience program is a great idea! Especially with the weird and frequent deployments that happen from Offutt.

    I have a slew of stories. A tree fell on the deck the day my husband left on his first deployment. The A/C went out 50% of the other deployments. A tree smashed our driveway in another. (We were up in Dundee. Those trees were destined for destruction.) The dog escaped and sliced his paw on broken glass. Then there was the deployment just after we PCSed to England, with a 6 month old. Our household goods got lost and my son and I spent two months alone in a new country with no stuff! Snow storms, power outages, strained back, fleas, broken dryer, broken refrigerator... there have been a lot of deployments :)

  6. Oh my goodness! It sounds like you have enough stories to write a book!!


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