What does resiliency mean to you?

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- How the tough keep going when the going gets tough is a question that's been on my mind over the past couple of weeks. So, how do people remain calm and cope under pressure when they're on the verge of a meltdown due to a relentless workload and impossible deadlines?

The word that comes to my mind is resiliency. The essential tool to resiliency is flexibility.

Here is a story about a medic who weathered the storms and knows a little about resiliency and flexibility.

After 20 years of dedicated service, our medic's military career now draws to a close as he looks back and thinks to himself, "How did I make it this long doing all this stuff?" The answer he likes to tell himself in a very macho voice is, "He is just plain old tough."

The reality is he has had an amazing family to support him through three separate career fields, multiple deployments and two marriages.

If you haven't guessed, that family is every member of our Armed Forces. He had the honor of serving with members from every branch and has learned something tangible from every single person he has met. But most importantly, it's the people that come into our lives that make it possible to overcome the multitude of difficulties we face.

An example of this is when he returned from a tour in Afghanistan. His friends quickly noticed that his behavior had changed and they kept pushing him to seek help for his abnormal anger and anxiety. Personally, he felt he was fine; but when the people around him pushed and pushed, he eventually did get the assistance he needed.

The thing about asking for help is admitting you are not as tough as you think. The key to getting past things is remembering you are as tough as you think.

To me, this was a pivotal role in his resilience. He has been able to bounce back from events in his life that, if gone unchecked, could have spelled disaster. Admittedly, he had gotten to the point of questioning his own purpose and worth. Yet somehow, with the support of everyone around him throughout the years, he came back stronger.

Resilience, in and of itself, is complex and layered. He believes in the "keep it simple" method of teaching. So, as he sits here trying to explain his method of resilience, something blares at him like a fog horn.

He is stronger now, he is a better NCO, a better medic and a better person. Not because of a computer based course, the amount of money he saved or how many classes he attended, but because he learned from all the things that he endured.

When he felt he had reached his limit, either physically or mentally, he saw that what he thought was his limit was self-imposed. Rather than give up and say, "Nope, I am spent," he pushed forward creating a new limit--a limit that he would eventually reset again and again.

This is true of all of us; we all have this capability. We are never alone, even when it seems we are. Everyone at some point faces the challenges of being lost and hurt in life. Unfortunately, that is life. The beauty of it is once we push through it, learn to cope and overcome, we stand tall with strength that is clear to those around us. Then when you least expect it, when you see what you have done for yourself, someone near you may ask for help and you are the right person for them.

From his early years as a security forces member to his time as a medical technician and, finally, as an independent duty medical technician--the career field he excelled in his last 10 years--he has been through so many ups and downs.

From receiving poor performance reports, making bad decisions to saving/losing friends and teammates, he now knows resiliency has been the main factor to his success. It is a part of us--all of us--and we who serve are the best at showing and building resilient personnel.