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A culture of change

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- When I first joined the Air Force, many years ago, most of those who had been in a while had rounded out their bodies as they had rounded out their careers, eventually acquiring a pear shape so common that it was used in most cartoon depictions of Air Force NCOs. Air Force NCOs were viewed as skilled technicians, persons who worked with their hands and brains, not soldiers in need of strong backs.

Additionally, smoking was not only tolerated, in some ways it was encouraged. It was allowed everywhere. Almost everyone with a desk had an ashtray on it. Even those who didn't smoke had ash trays for the inevitable smoking visitors. For many Airmen, evenings meant socializing at The Club, which meant pizza, burgers and fries, and above all large amounts of alcohol.

I have seen that culture change. Workouts have become more rigorous and more frequent. Being overweight is less of a norm, and smoking is actively discouraged. Even drinking, that staple of military socialization, is no longer seen as an absolute right or a social necessity.

The Air Force and the individuals within it have benefited greatly from this change.

The Air Force gains because good technicians become better technicians when they are in good physical shape. Hands and brains work better when the owner/operators are not out of shape or hung-over. Individuals gain increased energy, heightened cognitive abilities and fewer health problems later in life.

Even if your work just exercises your mind, the benefits of taking care of the whole body, being physically fit, are great. Taking care of the whole person includes the inner self or spiritual self, beyond the collection of flesh, bones and brain cells, is equally important.

Nourishing this self which feels need, has wants, enjoys some things and detests others, and which eventually learns to acknowledge the existence of other whole persons, whom need, want and feel, is an even greater benefit.

Neglecting this aspect of our existence will surely result in our own peril. Life without acknowledging the inward self is only fun for a while. Relationships based on our physical side are necessarily shallow. It is a congenital defect; they are born shallow, and if they do not become more than just physical, will remain shallow, no matter how intense. These relationships can be unfulfilling and short-lived. Life loses its joy because the aspect of the person that can feel joy is being starved. Caring for this deeper part of your existence takes work. Just like toning the body, toning the soul takes exercise, repetition and patience. Like a good workout, spiritual health most often can use some guidance. Many have gone down whatever path you choose; it makes good sense to learn from their experiences, both good and bad.

We have come a long way in taking care of our outer selves; why not take some time to acknowledge your inner self, what I would term your spiritual side? The Base Chapel is a good place to start. We specialize in the spiritual. The chapel here has trained and certified ministers, as well as a wide variety of services and activities designed to minister to the inner self.

Beyond religious services, we have programs for families with children, programs for mothers, programs for seniors and retreats for singles. The next retreat is scheduled for Oct. 12-14, 2012.

If we don't have what you are looking for we may be able to point you in the right direction. We would love to hear from you; give us a call at 301-981-2111, or check us out on our Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/#!/andrews.chapel.9