Don’t Worry Be Happy: 934th Airlift Wing Resiliency Team opens new wellness center

  • Published
  • By Chris Farley
  • 934th Airlift Wing

In the entryway of the 934th Airlift Wing’s Fitness Center, a dead Benjamina Ficus tree sat accompanied by two homely chairs facing a television that was constantly on, but no one was watching.   

Last week, the 934 AW Resiliency Team officially opened the remodeled room, which has been transformed into a brand-new wellness center for base personnel to use for de-stressing from work tension or for simply relaxing in a comfortable environment.

“We need a wellness center to show support for our Airman and civilian personnel," said Elizabeth Swanson, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. Swanson said the dual-status lives 934 AW Airmen live between civilian and military life is stressful. “So, why would we not do what we can to support them? And if it is offering just a little bit of peace and quiet after a workout, if that's what we can do, then that's what we're going to do.”

An extra benefit to having a wellness center located in the fitness center is the resiliency team will have an opportunity to reach more members.

“We've got a great mission, but we don't always get to visit with all the squadrons every weekend and one of the things that I liked about having this wellness center at the fitness center was that everybody comes in and goes out for their PT tests.” said Chayo Smith, 934 Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight and Public Health Services chief.

Initially, Smith had the idea of remodeling the corner into a resource library. Michael Sanford, 934 AW’s Violence Prevention Integrator, discovered other reserve bases had wellness centers and this finding offered best practices to apply to their design. Sanford and the resiliency team revisited and worked on the idea for a couple years

In June of this year, the Air Force Reserve Command contacted the resiliency team with news the command was giving them $11, 000 for prevention and resiliency programs.

“So, we thought now is the perfect time to create the wellness center,” said Sanford.

Smith and Sanford began collaborating with the rest of the resiliency ream representatives on this project. Members include Chaplain Brokenshire, 934 AW deputy wing chaplain, Master Sgt. Ralph Simcox, superintendent of religious affairs, Kelly J. Wilkinson, military and family readiness program director and Swanson all volunteered input and resources. The group realized $11,000 wasn’t enough money for the wellness center they envisioned.

The two massage chairs were a major expense but deemed important for what the resiliency team envisioned for the space. Durability, ease of use, comfort, and a variety of massage settings were their priorities. Fortunately, Wilkinson was able to use money from her program’s budget to cover the cost of the chairs.

The newly purchased and installed chairs can perform a variety of different massages including Shiatsu, Reiki, deep and heated. They can carry out timed sessions and perform a stretching function during a massage.   

“If you're stressed out at work, then get up from your desk and go sit in the chair for 10 or 15 minutes, said Smith. “Then reapproach your job or whatever you're stressed out about from a new and relaxed perspective.”

Though the resiliency ream is proud of the space they have designed, and the benefits it can bring the Airmen of the 934 AW, they are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve this space, and other areas. The primary goal is always to put Airmen first.

“The resiliency team is constantly thinking about what we can do next or what do people want?  And that's what we need is people to come up to us and say, hey, I think this would be a good idea for our reserve base,” said Sanford.

If you have an idea or suggestion contact Smith at 612-713-1608