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Sense of community

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As the holidays approach, many people are excited about all the gatherings to come and spend precious time with loved ones. But for many, it can also be a very stressful time where they will miss loved ones, may be going through some challenging times or feel a bit lonely. Each of us, as members of the Air Force family, has a responsibility of knowing those around us, our co-workers, subordinates, and neighbors, so that we can recognize when they may need our help and support.

Of course, when I speak of the Air Force family, it includes active-duty service members and immediate family, spouses and children, reserve and guard members, civilians and contractors, friends, and community members.

As we all know, resiliency centers on fitness in mental, physical, social and spiritual domains. It is focused on boosting the overall well-being of the Air Force Family in order to live a happy and productive life. Each of us individually, especially front line supervisors, can contribute to helping people around us endure through tough circumstances, adapt to changes in their lives or workplace, and reach their personal and professional goals. There are several simple ways that we can all promote a sense of community for everyone within our reach.

We all have to find and promote a healthy balance between mental, physical, social, and spiritual well-being. If any of these components is out of balance, it can affect not only mission accomplishment but family also pays the price. I often like to refer to enlisted force structure for guidance. There you will find that one of the NCO responsibilities includes maintaining the highest level of readiness to meet the mission requirements by being physically, mentally and spiritually ready. NCOs must be alert to issues that negatively impact subordinates' mental readiness such as quality of life, financial problems, stress, marriage problems and substance abuse.

Sound familiar? These issues are all around us in today's environment due to the economic downfall, high ops tempo and force drawdown. As a supervisor, you are the closest person to that subordinate, not the commander, first sergeant or chief. You must build relationships that inspire trust and open communication with your subordinates and peers. And how do you do this? By making yourself available when they need to talk to you or simply initiating conversations with them and listening empathetically.

However, this applies not only to the role of supervisors but to all individuals including being a good neighbor or friend. When you interact with others, you must listen with the intent to understand them; and only then will you earn their trust. Furthermore, you have to genuinely care about their well-being and try to convey that in everything you do. The minute you don't, you lose credibility. During my last assignment working at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, I experienced daily what it meant to build trust and relationships with others.

You couldn't just show up to a meeting and expect to go right to business. You were always welcomed with a cup of coffee and a genuine interest in getting to know all about you and your family. You most definitely needed a second meeting to meet your original intent. The point is to make the people business a priority in everything we do. After cultivating a web of relationships with your peers, subordinates, friends and neighbors, then will you be able to help them and their families and maybe even prevent great hardships by listening, providing support or referring them to the right agencies.

Airmen have all types of issues on a daily basis, and they talk to their supervisors and peers about them all the time. Be perceptive and don't see it as just a complaint. It is your responsibility as a good wingman to take action and elevate these issues if needed.

Peterson Air Force Base and our surrounding community is a great place to work, live and play. Let's ensure that we maintain a healthy sense of community for everyone at all times and especially during this holiday season. Next time you walk by someone and ask them "How are they are doing?" stop and remember to wait for their response because you may be their saving grace that day.