Warrior Heart: finding purpose through mindfulness

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Savannah L. Waters
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

“To fully bloom, you have to fully prune,” said retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Brinkley, life coach. “You’re in [one of] the most stressful jobs in America. Why would you be exceptional in your affiliation with the Air Force, and be average in your own life?” 

Brinkley, along with retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jannell MacAulay, leadership and human performance consultant, visited Travis AFB during the base’s first Warrior Heart-focused seminar Feb. 28-29, 2024. 

Air Mobility Command’s Warrior Heart initiative encourages responsible and early help-seeking behaviors. During the Spring Phoenix Rally in 2023, U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, AMC commander, highlighted the Warrior Heart mantra with three objectives to help Airmen balance mental health with physical fitness and honing their craft. His manta included eliminating stigma, lowering barriers and increasing access and options.   

“Warrior Heart is not a program, but rather, about our climate and our culture,” said Minihan. “So when I say mind, body, craft, I mean elevating the mind to the same level as body and craft.” 

During the two-day seminar at Travis AFB, guest speakers encouraged participants to acknowledge one’s purpose to determine life trajectory, explore optimizing stress and learn how to manage social and performance anxiety.             

MacAulay identified mindfulness as a proactive performance strategy within the U.S. military and discussed how minimizing distraction, enhancing sleep quality and being intentionally mindful can lead to a stronger, more meaningful purpose, in both a professional and personal setting.  

“I think we’re at the precipice of the next evolution of how we go about our future fight, and how we need to prepare as human beings,” MacAulay said. “If we retrain our minds, we can unlock our potential to do hard things, but also equip ourselves to be more resilient as we face these anxieties that we experience, and the social and performance pressures of life.” 

Brinkley stated he believes there’s a level of adversity individuals create for themselves, and asked the audience what their purpose was for giving time, energy and resources to anything with a diminishing return.  

“Where there is purpose, there is fulfillment,” he said, expressing the need to identify true purpose and self-motivation in order to succeed. “Once you figure out your why, how is irrelevant.” 

The speakers covered an array of topics, teaching performance-enhancing psychological skills and guiding discussion on how to build a high-performing family unit. 

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jessica Mitchum, 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron ground transportation operations center noncommissioned officer in charge, attended the Mindset Edge for Parents seminar, and stated she feels she is already applying lessons learned into her daily life. 

"Incorporating what I've learned means embracing the power of small changes, both habits and attitude,” she said. “Waking up early, setting a positive tone for the day, and prioritizing time with my children has already made a significant difference. By leading with patience and intention, I'm not just shaping my own day, but setting a positive example for my children's as well." 

Mitchum went on to say Warrior Heart offers more than just skills; it's a catalyst for transformative change. By equipping Airmen with tools to strengthen family bonds and enhance psychological resilience, Warrior Heart can elevate the overall quality of life for Airmen and their loved ones, fostering stronger relationships and a greater well-being.  

“I firmly believe change begins from within and radiates outward,” she said. “By prioritizing self-care, you pave the way for alignment in all aspects of life, including your family and other essential pillars.”