RAF MILDENHALL, England --
When Spain comes across an Airman’s desk as a deployment location, the first thought may be the luxury of Madrid or the beauty of Barcelona.
For those Airmen assigned to the 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron at Zaragoza Air Base, Spain, they were in for an awakening.
“A lot of us are constantly working, only having time to sleep and eat,” said Staff Sgt. Christian Holguin, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron supply craftsman. “We can’t participate in much because our job is so hectic. Even on our off days we end up working. It makes our time here seem so much longer.”
Team Mildenhall Airmen are supporting Operation Juniper Micron, assisting the French government through air refueling and airlift support for French operations in Mali and northern Africa.
Because of the stressful mission and environment, Jack Sweet, Team Mildenhall’s community support coordinator, coordinated the ‘100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron deployed resiliency training’ for the Airmen. The lessons included a training instructor traveling to the deployed location and teaching the Airmen a resiliency lesson, along with providing tools. The tools included workout and sports equipment, morale posters and a barbecue grill for the squadron to use and keep.
“This partnership allowed the squadron and CSC to discuss the vision of strengthening resilience in a deployed area, and ensured resiliency material and training aids were readily available,” Sweet said. “These efforts support the Air Force vision of taking care of Airmen whenever and wherever possible.”
The 351st EARS plans to keep the lessons going by deploying Airmen who are trained to teach resiliency to other Airmen.
“I really appreciate the resiliency training team coming down to support us,” Holguin agreed. “Small things like barbecuing and throwing a football around can make things just a little bit sweeter.”
This program is the first of its kind and will hopefully expand to other deployed locations.
“We never had this throughout any of the deployments in my career,” said Tech. Sgt. Sydney Melton, 100th AMXS sortie support section chief and resiliency training instructor. “If we would have had this available to us back then, I would have appreciated it. It’s a reminder to know you’re not forgotten out here and that someone understands what you’re going through.”
Along with the resiliency training, the 351st EARS commander encourages his Airmen to take a breath whenever they can.
“Building resilience is different for everyone,” said Maj. Michael Harrison, 351st EARS commander. “For me, maintaining my resilience is getting a chance to watch a baseball game for an hour if possible. For others, it's the reminders of home, like ranch dressing and maple syrup. The small things can make a huge difference.”
The training and the tools will help keep the Airmen happy and healthy while deployed.
“Our 100th AMXS commanders and CSC really care about instilling these lessons in our Airmen,” Melton said. “We understand that reinforcing the resiliency lessons is a key part to the whole Airman concept and it’s not just checking a box. I do it because I really believe in it. I know we are making a difference.”