Resiliency: An Airman's Greatest Strength

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joseph Garcia
  • 509 Bomb Wing
Balancing work and personal life can be a challenge in the Air Force.

Airmen must often work long hours, take on additional duties, and keep up with their training. They often learn to be resilient to manage stressful situations, which can be important to get them through the day.

For U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Melissa Spoon, 509th Bomb Wing resiliency coordinator, her experiences drove home the importance of resiliency, so now she teaches coping skills to other Airmen.

She first began to see the importance of resiliency in others while she was a training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

“I learned how much resiliency other people had,” Spoon said. “Just being able to wake up every morning and still serve your country requires so much strength.”

During this time, she and her husband had two children, and she had to learn to adapt to new challenges in her life.

After coming to Whiteman AFB, she worked mid-shifts in security forces from late afternoon until early morning for a year and a half. Daytime was the only opportunity for her to rest, and it was a struggle to maintain a balance between work and family.

“For the two days I worked during the week, I wouldn't see my daughters,” Spoon said. “To me, that was really hard as a couple, because he would take care of the kids while I was away.”

She said this led her to begin training other Airmen in resiliency.

Now, as the Bomb Wing’s resiliency coordinator, she provides leaders with the tools and resources to ensure military members get the care and support they need. The Resiliency Program seeks to strengthen Airmen and the Whiteman community mentally, socially, spiritually, and physically.

Spoon teaches other Airmen skills, like finding gratitude in the moment, balanced thinking, and physical resilience, skills which help fulfill the Resiliency Program mission.

To reach as many Airmen as possible, she teaches classes in person or on social media and devises personalized programs for anyone struggling with resiliency.

Aimee Schlenker, 509th Bomb Wing community support coordinator, said resiliency coordinators take situations like Spoon’s experiences with security forces into account when developing resiliency lessons.

According to Schlenker, the multifaceted approach to the program, which includes identifying community needs and developing initiatives that will have the greatest impact on Airmen and their families, focuses on the four pillars of resiliency: mind, body, spirit, and family.

One example of this in action was a recent event for students from Whiteman Elementary School that focused on self-image and withstanding the stress of being military children.

Spoon said events like these help families cope with stress and allow Airmen to focus more on their mission and less on worries in their personal lives. Which helps enable the 509th Bomb Wing’s mission, making the Resiliency Program an important one to Whiteman AFB.

Focusing on resiliency got Spoon through her tough times; now she helps other Airmen get through their tough times.