• Published
  • AETC Director of Safety
Experiencing the human capacity for change is a tremendous opportunity for personal growth. Of course, when it comes to following through with our New Year's resolutions, many of us don't get to feel the euphoria that this change can bring. Unfortunately, many beaches could be littered with the "bleached bones" of New Year's resolutions past that "died" shortly after they began in January.

That's really too bad. Because the top six killers in our society are heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory disease, accidents and diabetes. And while these killers may not be colorful, potential victims must embrace a human capacity for change to survive.

On many installations, the Air Force provides a place of hope for everyone in the form of a Health and Wellness Center, better known as the HAWC.

I recently toured the HAWC at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, and was reminded that health and wellness enhance the ability of Airmen to accomplish their wartime mission. However, from an altruistic viewpoint, it also improves personal satisfaction and enjoyment of life.

Most importantly, though, it helps save lives.

The HAWC is not simply a gymnasium. Instead, it is a behavior modification facility that proactively champions healthy lifestyle behaviors via comprehensive health promotion and disease prevention programs. Indeed, health and wellness is a permanent life-saving lifestyle, versus a quick workout.

The HAWC staff is trained to turn around bad behaviors -- even those learned early in life. In fact, eating and exercise behaviors are established early in children. In some cases, men and women develop a lifestyle of overeating and physical inactivity, which leads to obesity. However, others may adopt a risky lifestyle of excessive exercising, unhealthy weight loss, steroid use and smoking. Finally, as they mature, some people fail to manage stress, time and anger. Indeed, these silent but aberrant behaviors may simmer for decades before they kill.

Without a doubt, the HAWC is a place of hope for these sufferers. As such, the staff directs four core health programs that include nutrition and fitness, controlling health risks, living tobacco free, and an additional healthy living program aimed toward stress and anger management.

While most military personnel appear healthy, many are at risk for the big six: heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory disease, accidents and diabetes. And while changing behavior to abate these destructive forces is difficult, succumbing to them is tragic for both professional and personal reasons.

Yes, change is tough, but the human capacity for change is a powerful force. Let's kick start our desires to evolve with a few simple New Year's resolutions. But this year, invite the HAWC to help you take your resolutions off of "life support," and instead, let them thrive. Together, you can achieve your goals for a better lifestyle and a better you.