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Chief's View: Social Connections and Team Wellness

Chief Master Sgt. Cameron B. Kirksey

Chief Master Sgt. Cameron B. Kirksey

Citizen Airman/Dec. 2014 -- Happy holidays! I think this season is the perfect time to discuss my third focus area, Team Wellness, that I talked about in my last Citizen Airman commentary. Wellness for our Airmen and their families involves physical, mental, spiritual and social aspects. This season gives us time to focus on all aspects of wellness, especially the social aspect. My goal for our enlisted force this season is to connect with family, friends and the Airmen we work with, while at the same time reaching out to our deployed troops and wounded warriors.
 
I want us to focus on how we can be socially fit as individuals and as an organization. The Wingman Toolkit describes social fitness as "having a strong sense of belonging and connection to the people around you. It's being able to develop and maintain trusted, valued relationships that are personally fulfilling and provide a safe place to exchange ideas, views and experiences."
 
The holiday season gives us time to strengthen those relationships we value and provides an opportunity to reach out to those around us.
 
As General Jackson points out in his commentary, the holiday season can be a time of excitement and fun, but it can also be a challenging time. Some may be spending this holiday season alone due to a deployment, a permanent change of station move away from family and friends or the loss of a loved one. We have lost some of our fellow Airmen to suicide this year, and historically this is due in part to a sense of isolation. If you are feeling isolated this season, know your fellow Airmen are there to lend a helping hand. Reach out to your Air Force Reserve family for support.
 
I also challenge you to remember our deployed warriors and wounded warriors during this time of year. Take some time to reach out to these members of our team. A simple holiday note or care package can make the difference in how they feel this season. We have some great programs such as the Wounded Warrior Project that support our wounded warriors, but strengthening our individual connection with them can go a long way in helping our wounded Airmen recover. My goal is to ensure all Airmen are connected to our Reserve family.

Working on our social connections is the first step in developing a stronger Reserve force. The holidays provide the perfect chance to slow down, evaluate our priorities and ensure our work-life balance is in order. Take time to relax and celebrate with your family and friends this season. Take time to connect with your fellow Airmen and develop strong and lasting relationships with each other. I want the members of our enlisted force to feel like they belong to a family larger than their own. It will require the entire team to make that possible. And remember, no matter what time of year, I'm here for you!