By Maj. Nicole Reigelman
As military leaders at all levels emphasize the importance of connectedness, inclusion and resiliency to the health of the force, Pennsylvania Air National Guard (PAANG) members gathered for a first-ever “Resiliency Summit” to explore strategies, identify best practices, and synchronize resilience efforts across the PAANG.
The summit, which was held at the 171st Air Refueling Wing's base outside Pittsburgh, was a next step in advancing the PAANG’s Diversity, Inclusion and Resiliency initiative launched in 2020.
In opening remarks, Brig. Gen. Michael Regan, PAANG commander, outlined the gathering’s purpose.
”Our Airmen are the most important piece of our operational equation – without their skills, dedication, and wellness, we can’t accomplish the mission,” Regan said. “These and other programs must enable an inclusive environment within which every Airman is a valued member of the team. Our success relies on having a resilient force, and as leaders we are responsible for ensuring our wingmen have the tools they need to thrive on-duty and off.”
Nearly two dozen members from Wing Resiliency Teams assigned to the 171st Air Refueling Wing, the 193rd Special Operations Wing and the 111th Attack Wing participated in the two-day summit, including directors of psychological health, chaplains, Airman and family readiness group leaders, human resource advisors, sexual assault response coordinators, and equal opportunity representatives.
Speakers from the National Guard Bureau, RAND Corp., the Pennsylvania Army Guard, and PAANG headquarters offered their expertise to help wings identify strategies and resources for improving the organizational climate and resiliency of Airmen at their respective wings.
Participants worked together to evaluate and refine their wings’ Community Action Plans (CAP). The CAP is developed by Resiliency Team members who serve on the Wing Community Action Team, and is a key component of a wing’s resiliency efforts. The plan helps commanders address issues like work life balance, unit cohesion, or reducing risk behaviors, and to drive improvements in the lives of Airmen. The plan uses SMART goals to outline the wing’s strategy to address a specific issue related to airmen wellness using evidence based interventions.
“Our wings are diverse: different missions, demographics, strengths and challenges, and as a result each of their approaches to resiliency will be tailored to meet the needs of their Airmen” said Col. Donald O’Shell, PAANG director of staff. “The purpose of this event was bring our teams together to explore ideas and review some of the many tools and resources available to them to help strengthen their individual plans.”
In addition to learning about available resources and refining their strategies to boost Airmen wellness, summit participants bolstered their network to ease future collaboration and Resiliency program alignment across the PAANG.