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This holiday season, take care of yourselves and each other

Act to Sustain your Potential through Integrated Resources and Exercise (A.S.P.I.R.E.) is a new program from the 162nd Fighter Wing's CARENET and 9G Fitness. It will include a series of events over the next year to address all aspects of wellness; exercise, diet, financial responsibility, stress management and much more. (Air National Guard graphic by Capt. Gabe Johnson)

Act to Sustain your Potential through Integrated Resources and Exercise (A.S.P.I.R.E.) is a new program from the 162nd Fighter Wing's CARENET and 9G Fitness. It will include a series of events over the next year to address all aspects of wellness; exercise, diet, financial responsibility, stress management and much more. (Air National Guard graphic by Capt. Gabe Johnson)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- As we count down the final days of 2008 Mary and I would like to wish you all a happy holiday season. You've all done tremendous work this year to ensure the 162nd remains the world's premier F-16 training unit, and I encourage everyone to finish the year strong by caring for yourselves and your wingmen.

The holidays are a great time to reunite with friends and family, to give back to the community and to enjoy some well deserved time off. But for some people the holidays can be a stressful ordeal. Please be watchful for warning signs of stress and depression in yourselves and others, and take advantage of resources designed to help.

The first step in this effort is to be attentive to your own wellness. By wellness, I mean more than physical fitness; I also mean mental and spiritual health.

To help wing members and families I'm pleased to introduce the A.S.P.I.R.E. program. It stands for Act to Sustain your Potential through Integrated Resources and Exercise. This new program from CARENET and 9G Fitness will include a series of events over the next year to address all aspects of wellness; exercise, diet, financial responsibility, stress management and much more.

The first event will be a Brown Bag Lunch in the Dining Facility from 11:15 a.m. to noon Friday, Dec. 5. Members and families can bring their own lunches and participate in an interactive briefing about "Surviving the Holiday Season." Our own Maj. Windy Hendrick, creator of 9G Fitness and certified personal trainer, will facilitate a discussion about managing holiday expectations and stress.

Subsequent lunches will be held each Friday before drill and will address pertinent health topics and themes. I encourage everyone to stop by.

Other future A.S.P.I.R.E. events will include workshops to be held three times per year on half-fly days to maximize participation. These will include briefings and breakout sessions where people can try different wellness activities such as kickboxing, kettle bells, yoga and meditation to name a few. Be on the lookout for dates and times for these workshops.

Most importantly, I ask each of you to have a heightened sense of your duty to be a good wingman to people in your lives. Being a good wingman this season means watching your family and friends, your co-workers, your subordinates and supervisors for signs of stress or depression. Then it means being prepared to act in a way that will help.

Sometimes people just need a friend to listen, but sometimes they need more help. In any case, use the 162nd's support network, CARENET, which stands for Care And Referral Enhancement Network Effectiveness Team. It's a conglomeration of all the various support organizations within the wing and is there for your spiritual, emotional and physical assistance.

The specific groups include the Chaplains office, Family Readiness, the Jimmy Jet Foundation, the Technician Assistance Program, First Sergeants, the Medical Group, Equal Opportunity, the Human Relations Council, the Chiefs Council, Top 3 and the Junior Enlisted Council.

Let's all enjoy this season and come back in 2009 healthy and ready for a new year.