Resiliency: it’s more than a fun day on the calendar

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. R. Scott Grainger
  • 49th Materiel Maintenance Squadron commander
Resiliency: all of you - even those who are just starting your careers - have heard the term, seemingly a million times. Every month, we seem to have another "resiliency day," we get another briefing on how to be "resilient" Airmen, or we complete a computer-based training that talks about tools to help make us more "resilient." We almost tune that word out of our vocabulary because it is used so often, but I caution you against dismissing it so readily. Of all the traits we posses, this is potentially the most important. We gain resiliency from within ourselves as well as through the support of others.

The definition of resilience according to is: 1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. 2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

As an engineer, I'm much better prepared to discuss resiliency in mechanical terms.

All materials have inherent mechanical properties, just as each person has inherent abilities to cope. Let's take a steel spring supporting a weight, for example. It has the ability to support a given weight without being permanently stretched based on the thickness of the spring, the type of steel used to make the spring, how long the weight is applied, etc. Normally, we keep that spring under some weight, but not enough to permanently deform it. If we change the conditions by adding heat, adding more weight, or leaving the load on for too long, the spring loses its ability to resist. The material is in danger of being stretched beyond repair, or - worse - breaking completely, unless we bolster the spring by building it up to make it stronger or by adding one or more springs to assist. If we don't act quickly enough, the spring will be stretched, and it takes significantly more effort to repair, if it is repairable at all.

People are no different. Everyone has their own ability to withstand a certain amount of stress (weight). They can bolster their abilities (build individual resiliency) through activities such as fitness, relaxation, classes, church, etc. Additionally, they can bolster their resiliency through others. When the weight is shared with others, its effect on any one person is reduced greatly, and it is much easier to carry the weight. Again, if the stress persists too long, becomes too great, or help is not received, the consequences can be catastrophic. Each one of us is too important to allow that to happen. That's why the Air Force puts such an emphasis on building resiliency.

The next time we have a resiliency day, don't just groan and say, "Didn't we just have one of those?" Take advantage of the time to build your strength up. Our business is stressful, and we will all benefit from the collective knowledge and support tools. If flexibility is the key to air power, then resiliency is the ability to keep from breaking. The Air Force needs you; heck, I need each of you to be at your peak so we are prepared for the next time duty calls.

49th Materiel Maintenance Squadron: show us the place, we'll build the base!