Resilience: Bowling and bouncing back

Air Force resiliency.

Air Force resiliency.

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The word resilience has its root in the Latin 'resili', meaning "to bounce back."

I'd like to offer an expanded definition. Not just to bounce back, but "to endure, maintain or preserve."

In my time in the Air Force, I have seen tremendous changes. Some may remember a day when we had no internet, laptops or network phones. I can recall days long past when we used carbon paper to fill out the AF Form 988 Leave Form.

Change is a natural occurrence in life. The problem is that with natural change, peoples' comfort zones are challenged and changed as well. This, in my opinion, is where resilience is needed.

Despite the world changing around us, one thing is very consistent. In the midst of change, the Helping Agency network is always willing and able to assist. The Helping Agency network is comprised of agencies, clinics and programs on RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall to help members and their families survive, persist and endure change. Many key organizations including the chapel, the Airmen & Family Readiness Center, Military & Family Life Consultants, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, the Health & Wellness Center and the mental health flight make up the dedicated team of professionals that are in place to help out when needed.

So how do I build, strengthen or maintain my personal and professional resilience? What strategies do I use when the stress is rising and there is no relief in sight? Who can I turn to when it seems that I alone bear the weight of the world on my shoulders? I think resilience, or being resilient, is about plugging into something or someone other than myself. It's about reaching out for help, whether it's a mental health professional, a chaplain, a co-worker or a wingman.

I think of resilience like the bumper guards in a bowling alley. If you're like me, you're probably not a professional bowler. Every once in a while, despite my effort, my bowling ball ends up in the gutter. It's embarrassing to see that zero on the screen.

If I were to put up the bumpers, it would guarantee that my bowling ball never reaches the gutter. Resilience is like that. We can choose to go at it alone and perhaps be successful, but how much more successful will we be if we use the bumper guards?

Many of you may think it would be strange to see a grown man or woman using bumper guards while bowling, but what if everyone used them? Getting help when needed is never a sign of weakness. Everyone needs help from another person from time to time. Sometimes you'll strike out with the bases loaded; you'll not bat 1,000; you'll tumble; you'll falter. Sometimes you'll fail, but you are not alone.

The Helping Agencies at RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall have created a "one-stop-shop" for phone numbers, downloadable information and basic guidance to help you and your families not just survive, but thrive, despite the change happening all around you. To access the site, visit http://www.lakenheath.af.mil/library/sword-48fwresiliencywebsite/index.asp.