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Meet the commanders: 12th SOS - Lt. Col. Stephen Eide

Lt. Col. Stephen Eide, 12th Special Operations Squadron commander, stands in formation with his squadron in front of an MQ-9 Reaper aircraft at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Sept. 7, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luke Kitterman)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico --

I must admit, when PA asked me to contribute to their “getting to know the commanders” series with an article on resiliency, I wasn’t sure what I could offer on the subject.  The mighty 12th Special Operations Squadron sustains one of the lowest average deploy-to-dwell ratios in the operations group, Cannon personnel are constantly deployed across the globe in support of Special Operation Forces missions, the men and women of the 27th Special Operations Wing are experts in resilience! I’ve been a Remotely Piloted Aircraft pilot for going on 12 years now, so what could I possibly offer to the steely-eyed warriors of Cannon Air Force Base?

Allow me to relay a few of the mantras that I use to not only regulate and develop my own resilience, but also that of the Dirty Dozen.

Life is about balance: equalizing the equation in the positive and negative.  Resiliency is much the same.  Resiliency isn’t just a capability or technique, it’s more like a bank account from which we deposit and draw money.   Our background, culture, character and personality may have imbued us with an opening balance, or it may have set us up with an empty account. 

Military service, in general, will drive us to spend every bit of resilience we’ve built up.  Deployments, TDYs, being stationed away from home, working long duty hours, working extended duty days, missing holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and the like all tap into our reserves of resiliency.

Thankfully, there are multiple efforts across the Department of Defense, Air Force, Special Operations Command and Air Force Special Operations Command to help us replenish and grow our resilience.  The Preservation of the Force and Family, Military Family Life Consultants and the Airmen and Family Readiness Center all provide critical venues and investment opportunities for each of us to leverage in building resilience.

Aside from these programs, we can also build our resilience through individual actions and choices.  When we are stressed, exhausted, or frustrated, we naturally compensate through action or inaction.  What did you do the last time you’d just had enough?  Was it a healthy behavior?  Unhealthy?  I won’t be hypocritical and tell you to never do unhealthy things.  What I will say is this… find the balance, and whatever you do, do it in moderation.  We should all be able to agree that alcohol is a method that some of us use to decompress.  If it’s legal for you to drink, who am I to tell you it’s a bad idea?  What I will say is, drink in moderation.  Don’t overdo it!  The same goes for other risky methods of building resilience such as video games, high risk activities, etc. 

Balance and moderation also apply to the healthy methods we use to rebuild and bank resilience. If we spent more time in self-reflection, meditation, reading, resting and exercise than work, we wouldn’t be very productive members of society or our military.

At the end of the day, if we consider our personal resilience as a bank account, when was the last time you made a deposit?  When was your last withdrawal?  Our nation demands a great deal from us.  There are certainly times when our nation asks us to be selfless, to give of ourselves at the cost of ourselves.  We cannot forget that there are also times to be selfish, to invest in ourselves.  For a long time, our military was too focused on the former, looking at our time in uniform as solely giving of ourselves for the betterment and defense of our nation.  The tide is now turning in that leaders and leadership are acutely focused on ensuring that for each resiliency withdrawal we demand of you, that we also empower you with the tools and time to rebuild and bank resiliency for future use.

Many of my fellow commanders are aware of many humorous examples in my career that required resilience.  There are far too many to relay here.  The most poignant epiphany I can relay is this; pride is similar to resilience as it can be banked and can be withdrawn.  Too little is equally as troublesome as too much.  Find your own balance, and do everything in moderation especially when it comes to foot injuries.