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GRIT: A different way to bond

A photo of Airmen attending training

U.S. Air Force Capt. Marsena Walker, 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial port flight commander, holds a discussion during GRIT training at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, May 13, 2021. GRIT is a training program designed to strengthen resiliency, reinforce protective factors, and reduce unwanted behaviors through deliberate and meaningful personal and professional development from commanders and supervisors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taryn Butler)

A photo of an Airman speaking to another Airman

U.S. Air Force Capt. Marsena Walker, left, 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial port flight commander, speaks to Airman 1st Class AmberRose Walters, 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation specialist, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, May 13, 2021. Walker held GRIT training which provides resources to enhance personal and professional performance while promoting a shared responsibility of Airmen taking care of Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taryn Butler)

A photo of an Airman speaking to a group

U.S. Air Force Capt. Marsena Walker, 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial port flight commander, talks with Airmen during GRIT training at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, May 13, 2021. GRIT training is a way to connect Airmen to each other, to their Air Force heritage and to the broader Air Force mission by focusing on connectedness and a shared sense of purpose. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taryn Butler)

ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait --

The 386th Expeditionary Mission Support Group are investing in “collective success” by implementing a program designed to strengthen resiliency and encourage communication through deliberate and meaningful personal and professional development from commanders and supervisors.

GRIT is a way to connect Airmen to each other, to their Air Force heritage and to the broader Air Force mission by focusing on connectedness and a shared sense of purpose.

“GRIT is courage and resolve; strength of character,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Marsena Walker, 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial port flight commander. “The goal for me is to ensure that [my Airmen] not only have an understanding of what GRIT is, but how to apply it to their everyday life. A lot of the trainings are based around resiliency which, being in a deployed environment, is very important.”

Each month, a different squadron within the group collects training materials and briefs the EMSG command team on the rollout plan. Then it’s up to noncommissioned officers and company-grade officers at the squadron level to facilitate the conversations.

“I conduct training in my flight by having standing weekly meetings where I cover a topic and do exercises to reinforce the message,” Walker said. “I try to have meaningful conversations. I don’t want this to be something they do to check a box but, instead, the development they can use to better their work and personal situations – an added tool in their social toolbox.”

The training relies on communication between Airmen and leaders, which Walker hopes will be a positive departure from the typical PowerPoint presentation style briefing.

“I hope the personalization of the trainings is helping them see their leadership as more than a rank,” Walker said. “We talk through scenarios and get different perspectives from the group. It is a great learning environment – a different way to bond. It has been an awesome experience to review and facilitate these discussions.”

Because this training is conversation based, Airmen are able to hear each other and apply what they learned to navigate the situations day-to-day life can hold.

“The classes themselves have been enlightening – from unconscious bias, micro aggressions, to emotional intelligence,” said Airman 1st Class AmberRose Walters, 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation specialist. “For example, heat triggers a lot of emotions. As workloads double, tempers are going to flare. These classes may help people not be so reactive and give a different perspective on how others handle day to day life.”

Self-care can be essential to serving effectively and creating a culture in which Airmen and families thrive; the 386th EMSG plans to continue to utilize deployment time in order to further develop the personal well-being of current and future deployed Airmen.