This was much more than a hike up a hill. 24 hours earlier, the team of Airmen was joined by dozens of other service members for a day of discussion and presentations on the different pillars of resiliency. Thanks to chaplains and mental health professionals from Ft. Drum, the Airmen were able to learn about and consider different views on the importance of spiritual, social, physical, and mental health.
SSgt LaBerge reported they focused on stress management such as "avoiding catastrophic events (your spouse is 30 minutes late, how do you avoid thinking they're dead, cheating, etc)." His team also learned about "mental resiliency with frame of mind, talking yourself up to increase your performance (common with snipers and athletes, believing you can do something and then doing it)." "They emphasized on spiritual not being religion, but something to find peace of mind with, nature, golf, stuff like that."
The learning didn't stop there. Unlike many military mental health events that end after a classroom session, this group of Airmen headed outdoors to practice what they had just learned. Many experts agree: resiliency is not something that can be taught from a book or presentation. Rather, it must be practiced over and over, often in challenging circumstances. The team chose Mt. Mansfield and it's miles of hiking to practice their skills and build up camaraderie.
The diverse group worked together during the five hour hike to ensure all who started reached the top. On the summit, they proudly flew the American, Air Force, and TACP flags. Mission Complete!
SSgt LaBerge said that it was such a success that he and his colleagues aim to do another resiliency hike, but this time it will encompass three state high points: RI, CT, and NJ. We wish them luck and will help spread the word about this morale and health boosting event they are organizing.