Don’t ring the bell: Chief of chaplains talks to Team Osan about resiliency

Don’t ring the bell: Chief of chaplains talks to Team Osan about resiliency

by Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo
Osan Air Base

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Team Osan was given the unique opportunity to hear the Air Force’s most senior chaplain explain his take on resiliency during an all-call Dec. 29.

Chap. (Maj. Gen.) Dondi E. Costin, Air Force Chief of Chaplains, spoke to Airmen and families, focusing on two central analogies: preparing yourself to sit in one of life’s four chairs (building, stress, performing, growing) and having the strength not to “ring the bell” and quit when life is stressful.

Costin, who is known around the Air Force for his ability to captivate audiences with his speeches, explained how each person will move through the four chairs at multiple times in their life, and the resilience constructed in the building seat is the key to bouncing back.

“Spiritual fitness is you deciding and determining what your purpose and your meaning is in life; what values you have and then living by those values,” said Costin. “All resilience is, is you having the attitudes and behaviors and beliefs and the community around you to make sure you can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.”

It’s important for each Airman to watch their wingmen, friends and family for signs that they’re moving out of the normal building chair into the least desirable one: stress. Airmen need to have the courage and strength to help prevent those around them from “ringing the bell” and giving up.

“If you’re a supervisor, a wingman, a buddy, a whatever, don’t let your Airman ring the bell,” said Costin. “Your job . . . is to know your Airman so well that you can detect when something is going awry.”

One of Costin’s points that Team Osan chaplains wanted to reinforce was that just like staying physically fit, staying comprehensively fit takes hard work and dedication, too.

“The challenge is that it takes effort to find these groups and people [to build resiliency]; it doesn’t take much effort to find the bar downtown,” said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Jeffrey Granger, 51st Fighter Wing wing chaplain. “It takes conscientious effort, forethought and planning to get involved with healthy lifestyles, [while] trouble sometimes seems to find Airmen on its own.”

Granger recommended that to stay comprehensively fit, not only should Team Osan members get involved with one of the diverse groups open throughout the base, but also to willingly self-identify for help when necessary.

“In order to have a viable military career, you’ve got to deal with [stress]; avoiding getting help won’t make the problem go away,” he said. “It’s much less of a threat getting help than trying to fly under the radar and hoping nobody notices.”

At the end of his presentation, Costin left the audience with a word of thanks for the work Team Osan puts in daily.

“I just want you to understand how grateful we are that here you are, at the most pointy end of the spear, and that you wake up every single morning, no matter what your job is, and guard the freedom of 51 million people,” he said.

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