Air Force Resiliency : One Airman's journey to overcome adversity

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brooke Garibay
  • 509th Security Forces Squadron

When I hear the word resilience, I’ve seen that it is often followed by shrugs that seem to say, “Here we go again, another briefing.”

The Air Force teaches that resilience is the ability to withstand, recover, and “bounce back” in the face of adversity. I have learned that just because you are resilient enough to withstand one challenging life event, doesn’t always mean you will get through the next one the same way.

This word has become imprinted in my life, and I have the Air Force to thank for that.

Life seems to have a way of teaching us about ourselves when we least expect it. In 2020 while trying to start a family, my husband and I experienced a series of miscarriages.  We were in a cycle every three months of being excited to start a family, and then we were devastated when we realized that dream was not going to come true.

After our third miscarriage in November 2020, I got a phone call notifying me that I was selected to be the Wing Resilience Coordinator for Whiteman AFB. While I was excited to take on this new role, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill the duties to the best of my ability.

How am I supposed to teach these skills to our Airmen when I myself wasn’t using them?

When I began working as a resiliency trainer, I was surrounded by people who spent their whole day trying to better the quality of life for their community.  How can you not have a positive mindset when people are showing you daily how much they care?  

It wasn’t until I started teaching classes that these skills became a part of my everyday life. The lessons that have impacted me the most are “Gratitude,” “Balance Your Thinking,” and “Physical Resilience.”

By practicing gratitude, I was able build a more optimistic outlook and break the negative thinking cycle I’d fallen into. Instead of focusing on the negatives in my life, I decided to pay attention to the good things.

My husband and I started saying a few things we were thankful for at the end of the day before we went to sleep, ending the day on good thoughts.

“Balance Your Thinking” is the next area that I really focused on and decided that I needed to implement.

While going through the miscarriages it seemed as though my husband and I were in a constant state of thinking we knew what the other was thinking.  Realizing that we are not mind readers and opening up lines of communication has been huge for our relationship. 

“Physical Resilience” is the final skill that has aided in my personal journey.

Understanding that mental and physical health are reciprocal has allowed me to have a healthier overall lifestyle. This does not mean just getting in the gym and getting a good lift in but making sure you are listening to your body and what it needs, even if that is just resting.

I am thankful for the lessons I have learned while growing in my resilience skills.

My husband and I are now expecting twins this March, and we could not be happier.

When you utilize the four pillars; mental, physical, social, and spiritual wellness, you can lead a balanced life.  

My final thought is, we are given ample time to stay physically fit; this needs to be the same mindset for our mental health as well.