Balancing mission focus, busy life

by Lt. Col. Barry King 37th Airlift Squadron commander

Comprehensive Airman Fitness is a framework for developing resiliency skills throughout the Air Force family. The program recognizes and emphasizes the fact that fitness is more than a physical state; it is as varied and nuanced as the members of the community. CAF is a holistic approach that focuses on strengthening four separate domains, or pillars, of resiliency mental, physical, social and spiritual. The intent is to create and sustain a resilient force of Airmen, civilians and family members by providing education and resources that fit their needs.

One of the strongest merits of CAF is that it allows people to rely on their innate strengths while encouraging balance and growth in weak areas. This means the resiliency we build is tailored to our needs as individuals. What uplifts me is completely different from another Airman’s perception of inspiration. I find emotional strength in my wife and two children; in times of crisis I turn to my faith and meditation to bolster my spiritual pillar.

To highlight the value of a flexible approach to resiliency, Senior Airman Toni Odom offers a different perspective of what CAF means to her.

“I jokingly say that I’m married to the Air Force because in many ways I do have a symbiotic relationship with my career. When I moved to Germany though, that statement basically became my motto. Being unmarried, away from my family in Arkansas and not particularly religious, the easiest thing to do was focus on work, volunteer to fly on holidays and avoid the silence of my apartment. This worked for almost two years before I realized that other aspects of my life were falling to the wayside. The effects of burying myself in my career were insidious. I came home after a three-week mission with a suitcase full of sweaty flight suits and found more piles of laundry, dirty dishes and an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Feeling like I had nobody to call was the cherry on my self-pity sundae. Somehow I was surviving, but I was not thriving in an environment of my own making. I am in a much better state now that I balance my time at work with a fulfilling social life and a few peaceable games of dodge ball. Happiness is a slow run around my village or bringing macaroni and cheese to a cookout. It is tempting not to kill my potted plants and spending the weekend in Paris. I’ve found that as I take care of myself and my coworkers, everything else falls easily into place.”

In the 37th Airlift Squadron, relying on all four pillars is paramount to ongoing mission success. From the newest Airman in the Blue Tail family, to the superintendent or commander, having a solid foundation on which to rely during difficult times is not just good planning, it is an expectation.

This program relies on Airmen taking care of one another, which is what I ask of all (our Airmen) on a daily basis. If Airmen are in a good place mentally, physically, socially and spiritually, when the rubber meets the road, their focus can fall on safely and effectively executing the mission.

(Editor’s Note: U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa took Comprehensive Airman Fitness to the next level with RUfit, a “one-stop” web-based tool that lists specific services and contact information for each base and each service offered in the command. Visit