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Finish Strong

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Melissa Brown
  • 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron

I am a runner. Not because of the number of miles I write on my calendar each morning, not because I have more running clothes than regular clothes in my laundry pile and not because I have more T-shirts than my buddies.

I am a runner because I run.   

I arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar over six months ago and everybody said my deployment would be a marathon, not a sprint. However, I quickly learned we were maintaining a constant record setting pace akin to a very short sprint. Regardless of how you have sprinted, ran, jogged or walked your time at AUAB many of you are approaching the finish line and I encourage you to finish strong. 

As you would with a foot race, ensure you are prepared for your upcoming stride across the deployment finish line. Review the course map presented to you by the Personnel Support Contingency Operation Office in the form of an out-processing checklist. Do not be shy about asking for assistance early when you see a hill or challenge up ahead; make sure your government travel card is working, you have your blue stamped orders in hand and ensure your ID card is current. 

Prior to redeploying we need the doctor’s approval so knock out your post deployment health assessment early; up to 30 days before your redeployment. Make sure you know what you must hand-carry, what should go in checked bags and what should be mailed home. Feeling prepared will decrease your anxiety about the finish, which will help you sleep better and help you maintain a positive attitude through your transition.

Especially with the holidays, training and racing always requires more discipline to maintain. To make it over hurdles, improve your mental toughness.  One simple tool is to have a mantra.  Have a few phrases in mind that you’ll be able to recall easily to get you through the rough patches.  Make sure your phrases do not contain a negative word.  For example, do not say, “Don’t stop” because you may focus on the “stop.”  Instead, say something like, “The stronger, get stronger.” To maintain your mental toughness through the holiday season and cross the finish line focused on your loved ones and your reunion with them.

Do not skip the water stops. The cooler temperatures and, shorter days can be misleading. Your finish line is in sight and to get there you must be hydrated. Do not be fooled…you are still working hard and it is still warm and humid out. Remember to take time to care for yourself, ensure you have enough fuel in the tank to maintain your steady pace and finish this deployment on two feet.   

Thank your supporters. Acknowledge those who cheer for you and volunteer at the water stops. If you're too tired to verbalize a "thanks," show them a smile, wave or give them a thumbs up. It is essential for your loved ones and fans to know how vital they were to your deployment successes to make them feel good and encourage them to root for you.

Don’t immediately stop at the finish line or in the chute. There will be runners coming in right behind you, so keep going until it is safe to stop. Redeploying is not done when you step on the outbound rotator here at AUAB. Redeployment includes returning to home station, completing all required in-processing actions, reintegrating with your loved ones, recharging your batteries and reestablishing your daily routines.      

As you near the finish line remember, running slow is not a character flaw…quitting is. FINISH STRONG!