Team McChord Airmen exercise hearts, minds with Warrior Heart Initiative

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Colleen Anthony
  • 62d Airlift Wing

Team McChord kicked off June with Warrior Heart, a new initiative that embodies Air Mobility Command commander, Gen. Mike Minihan’s, directive to drive readiness. This keynote event launched the AMC-wide effort and introduced the concept of training your mind to Team McChord.

“We hope to impart on McChord the idea that we can proactively train our minds to help ourselves out, and be more present,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col., Dr. Jannell MacAulay, Ph.D., leadership and performance consultant. “I want our military community to see that there really is a science to enjoying the spaces in between stress, to see the joy and laughter and know that professional success doesn't have to be at the expense of our health and relationships.”

The Warrior Heart cultural effort, as designed by Dr. MacAulay and retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Brinkley, is rooted in bringing mindfulness, resilience and self-care skills to AMC Airmen through interventions at the leadership, family and individual level. The focus being not on building a program but breaking the stigmas and barriers that hinder the development of a mentally strong force.

“When you lead from the middle, your job is not to make everyone conform until they lose their identity,” said Chief Brinkley. “Great leaders function as a conduit; they plug into you and there is a transfer of energy and knowledge.”

Throughout the eight workshops hosted at McChord, the Warrior Heart effort focused on taking leaders and teams through a transformational journey of self-reflection in order to engage actionable skills to master their internal environment, command their mindset and elevate their performance.

“Our Airmen conduct operations on every continent of the earth, sometimes in harm's way,” said Col. David Fazenbaker, 62d Airlift Wing commander. “Having skills that focus on self-care is incredibly important at home station and while deployed.”

These skill sets assist AMC personnel with learning to train their mind and heart – to fortify the will to win. Scientifically researched and evidence-based mindset skills can fill a vital training gap and function as mental rehabilitation in preparation for physical and mental stressors.

“You have people who sign up for something that most people never do and they’ve signed up for the most stressful job in America,” said Brinkley. “If you’re leading them, you just signed yourself up for even more stress. Leaders are the people that everyone counts on by design, so when you are burned out, everyone that is plugged into you burns out too.”

The Warrior Heart initiative will hit every AMC installation over the course of a two-year period.

“We led with McChord because we knew this base was already creating space for these types of efforts,” said Dr. MacAulay. “Not to mention, there are key warfighters and deployers at this location, and [Team McChord] was already starting this conversation, which made it that much easier for us to enhance it.”

By fine tuning mind, body, and craft, AMC aims to fortify the will to win within the ranks. With a focus on eliminating stigma, lowering barriers and increasing access to key mental health amenities, Minihan believes Warrior Heart can help that happen.