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Wellness Team to focus on supporting Airmen

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Wing officials have announced the creation of a new Wellness Team to help Airmen and their families build resilience and live healthier lifestyles.

The team provides a variety of free resources to meet the social, emotional, physical and spiritual needs of Airmen and their family members, said Col. Greg Nelson, wing commander.

The group was created partly in response to years of high operation tempo and repeated deployments that have strained the resilience of many Airmen and their support networks.

Speaking to an audience of Airmen and family members Oct. 23 during the wing's annual Family Day celebration, Nelson said the goal is to fully embrace a wingman culture across the base and beyond.

"We asked, 'How do we promote total wellness for our Airmen?' I think the answer is this Wellness Team," he said. "We've put together a team that will take advantage of the broad range of expertise we have in the wing."

The team is comprised of Linda Ringleka, the wing's director of psychological health; Lt. Col. John Stea, a flight surgeon and psychiatrist; Chaplains (Lt. Col.) Patrick Cooney, (Lt. Col.) Fred Ehrman and (Capt.) Kerry Wentworth; Master Sgt. Ed McCormick; David Rooney, Family Support Group coordinator; and retired Col. Robert Williams, a former group commander in the Kentucky Air National Guard.

"As a team, we will be doing things like looking at how to create Wingman Day training for specific units," Ringleka explained. "We want to tailor the program so that we provide individual units with exactly the kind of training that will be most beneficial, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all curriculum.

"Two of the questions we ask is: 'What's your group's effective learning style, and how do we tailor the training to that particular learning style?'

"For most people," she said, laughing, "it's not a Powerpoint presentation."

"We're also looking at ways to be prepared for crises or emergencies. This could be an emergency for one individual, a group of individuals or an entire community. But we want to offer a planned, methodical response."

Ringleka said the team will work to leverage other resources in the community.

"There's a big interest in doing crisis-intervention response training, and to linking with other community agencies, like the Red Cross, in the event of a larger-scale disaster."

To promote the team and improve accessibility, the group will be launching a Facebook page, Ringleka said.

The page will contain contact information, promote available resources and provide tips for healthy living -- everything from pointers on nutrition and exercise to stress-management techniques.

"Our Wellness Team resources are here for you and your families," she added. "They are free of charge. We're here to serve."

"We will work together to foster and support wellness for the Air Guard family, one wingman at a time. Let us know what you need from us, and how we can help."