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Maintain mental fitness for a healthy life
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Maintain mental fitness for a healthy life

Posted 1/22/2014   Updated 1/21/2014 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

1/22/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The challenges of working in the Air Force can be both physically and mentally taxing. Mental fitness is approaching life's challenges in a positive way by demonstrating self-control, stamina and good character with choices and actions.

"When we celebrate attitudes and actions, we want to encourage it and reinforce those behaviors," said. Dawn Altmaier, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing community support coordinator. "It requires intentional effort to connect; a vital aspect for every human."

Altmaier and Team Fairchild are committed to investing in readiness of the force and quality of life for Airmen, family members and civilians. This philosophy focuses on developing the mental, social, physical and spiritual fitness of Airmen and their families through the Comprehensive Airman Fitness program.

"CAF is about being good Wingmen to ourselves and others," Altmaier said. "Our CAF goal is to create and strengthen a community of fit and resilient Airmen, civilians and families. It is not a program, but a culture change that enhances mission effectiveness by focusing and investing in people."

This quarter, the Air Force is focused on improving the mental resiliency of Airmen. Mental fitness requires effective coping skills, a strong self-image and a positive approach to life. People who are mentally fit demonstrate self-control and make good choices, said Col. Brian Masterson, the Air Force Reserve Command's command surgeon.

According to the AFRC's Wingman Toolkit, maintaining mental and emotional fitness is critical for all Air Force members. Some people seem to achieve this naturally. However, more often, it's the result of some hard work and longstanding good habits, officials said. It all begins with good nutrition but involves much more.

"The good news is healthy brains remain capable of growth throughout a person's life, so everybody can improve their mental fitness," said Airman 1st Class Andres Gutierrez Gonzalez, a 92nd Medical Operation Squadron mental health technician.

Another important aspect of mental wellness is admitting when help is needed. Experts say, if you have genuine concerns about the health of your brain, seek help from a qualified mental health counselor or start with your primary care physician.

"You're never alone," said Altmaier. "We have dozens of helping agencies here ready and willing to help you."

Mental health service specialists at Fairchild interview patients to obtain clinical information that may assist in determining the patient's psychological and psychological status. They provide guidance and counseling to assist patients in achieving a more satisfying personal, family, social and occupational adjustment.

"Mental fitness is very important for functioning while going through the day that way you don't have any distractions, you can do your job and can be happy," Gutierrez Gonzalez said. "Follow your routine, eat healthy and talk out your issues if you have any. We offer various mental fitness assistance avenues from therapists and psychologists, family and behavioral health specialists, as well as Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment and family advocacy."

Gutierrez Gonzalez added the Fairchild mental health office is doing walkabouts through different units affording Airmen an opportunity to talk about whatever may be on their minds.

"This is a new program we are doing to help Team Fairchild maintain their mental fitness," he said. "They're always welcome to come and talk to us or make an appointment at (509) 247-2731."

[Editor's note: The AFRC public affairs office contributed to this article and is part one of a four part feature series highlighting the Comprehensive Airman Fitness program at Fairchild.]

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