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Wellness is an Attitude Campaign Kicks Off

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OH -- "Wellness is an attitude!" If Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) leaders have their way, those words will become more than just a slogan for the command's new wellness and safety campaign. They will become a way of life.

AFMC Commander Gen. Bruce Carlson identified wellness and safety of the command's military and civilian work force as one of his top three priorities shortly after assuming command in August 2005.

"Our work force is our only appreciable asset," General Carlson said. "Our success in AFMC depends on our work force -- one that is healthy, safe, motivated, excited, interested and whole in terms of its overall wellness. Our efforts will help our people gain value, improve their quality of life and help them become even more productive over time."

To facilitate this cultural transition, a team representing all aspects of wellness and safety, led by Brig. Gen. William Germann, the command surgeon, set the course for AFMC's Wellness and Safety Campaign. The campaign debuts May 8. The Wellness is an Attitude campaign represents the command's concept that wellness is the sum total of four dimensions: physical, social, emotional and spiritual.

The physical dimension of wellness is about weight control, a balanced and healthy diet, appearance, self image and exercise, said Lt. Col. John Leitnaker, operational prevention branch chief in the command surgeon's office. The social dimension focuses on healthy relationships, job performance, involvement with group and team activities and financial stability. The emotional dimension addresses self-esteem and happiness. And, the spiritual dimension centers on faith in a higher order and hope. Spiritual wellness does not necessarily mean a belief system that is religion-based, but recognizes the importance of resiliency and the ability to bounce back from the inevitable setbacks in life, the colonel said.

With its fingerprints on every Air Force program in the inventory, AFMC supports every American warfighter. However, the command's work force is nearly 75 percent civilian. Civilians historically have not been part of the military structure that supports a wellness-focused work force, Germann said. They have been identified, but are not well integrated.

There is good cause in bringing civilian Airmen into the fold with their uniformed co-workers, General Carlson said.

"The number of deaths among our civilian work force is of great concern to me," the general said. "There are other threats to our people's wellness due to obesity, sedentary lifestyles and poorly managed health conditions.

Implementation of initial phases of the campaign began in January. For instance, full-time civilians are authorized up to three hours weekly for fitness or wellness activities, or a combination of both, Germann said. Part-time employees' participation is prorated.

"This means civilians may dedicate this time to physical fitness activities, or attend any number of wellness classes offered at various base locations, including health and wellness centers, medical centers, family support offices or the chapel, just to name a few," he said.

More recent was the rollout of the voluntary Air Force Civilian Health Risk Appraisal, a questionnaire geared toward assessing and enhancing civilian quality of life, and the online AFMC Civilian Wellness Support Center.

General Carlson has made it clear that the transition toward a culture of wellness and safety is one that will require leadership from all levels.

"Changing our culture to be one that is wellness- and safety-focused will take leadership from the top and involvement from every member of our command," he said. "Commanders and directors, chiefs, first sergeants and supervisors at every level must lead by example first. They need to get to know their people, understanding their likes, dislikes, problems and frustrations,” Carlson said. “In the end, we want to be known as the Air Force flagship command for leading the way to personal holistic wellness for its people. In other words, we want people to embody the concept that, ‘Wellness is an Attitude!'"

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