CAF check yourself before you wreck yourself

Senior Master Sgt. Patrick A. Odom, Jr., official photo, U.S. Air Force

Senior Master Sgt. Patrick A. Odom, Jr., official photo, U.S. Air Force

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – In today’s Air Force and specifically the 60th Air Mobility Wing, we are continually proving there are no bounds. Therefore, Comprehensive Airman Fitness is vital for every collective Airman whether military, civilian or a family member.  CAF is defined in Air Force Instruction 90-506, Comprehensive Airman Fitness, as “A holistic approach to fitness that includes the mental, physical, social and spiritual domains.” It’s important that we understand the holistic approach of CAF and our need to be fit in each domain to ensure we’re able to be balanced and resilient Airmen. 

I want to highlight the need for each of us to understand and take time to run “CAF checks” on ourselves. I’ve found that many will, without fail, pay to perform the required maintenance on our vehicles and equipment, but will neglect to utilize resources provided for us to enhance our ability to withstand, recover and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands of our mission. Some of these resources include but are not limited to; chaplains, military family and life counselors, military one source and mental health providers. All of these professionals are ready and willing to assist us in performing “CAF checks” on ourselves.

With this in mind, at times, I’ll conduct CAF exercises with my Airmen utilizing automobiles as our focal point.  In these exercises, there are no bounds on money or imagination and I ask what type of vehicle would the members most desire for themselves.  Then, I ask if the members would ensure the necessary maintenance is performed to enable peak performance on the vehicle.  This sets the stage for my next question; why? Why did you choose each specific make and model? Why would you perform the upkeep?  The answers differ; however, the context is the same.  Vehicle maintenance is performed to ensure the reliability of the vehicle while protecting the investment. 

After great dialogue on vehicles, I got to the essence of our CAF exercise. The final question asked is, “Why would we place a greater value on our possessions than we do ourselves?”

This is a tough reality for some, yet it stands accurate each time we fill up our vehicles, perform an oil change or rotate tires, but fail to seek assistance in our mental, physical, social or spiritual fitness domains.

The bottom line is that no vehicle, aircraft or piece of equipment is more intricate or valuable than any Airman. We are all one of a kind and need to be balanced to maintain peak performance. Our CAF strategy highlights this need and focuses on strengthening fitness, resilience, and readiness in Airmen, families, communities and organizations through education, resilience-building activities and wellness support programs. It is our duty as individuals, supervisors and leaders to ensure we are conducting “CAF checks” on ourselves and others.  This will ensure we are able to continue “breaking barriers and crashing through boundaries by focusing on people first, mission always.”