Overweight, no leg, no sight = no problem

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- "It was my first marathon, and I had to stop a bunch of times to take my leg off and adjust it, almost every one to two miles after mile 10, but at least I felt great afterwards, no real bad soreness either."

Lt. Col. Juan Alvarez, spoke these words after completing the 31st Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. A formidable feat for anyone, it was quite an accomplishment for him, especially considering the events he experienced on Sept. 19, 1996. Then a Navy lieutenant, he was nearly killed following a helicopter accident in the dense jungles of Columbia. He lost his leg, but he certainly didn't lose his spirit.

Over the years I have learned that marathons are riddled with inspiring stories. I met a lady who shed 80 pounds to accomplish her goal of running 26.2 miles. Then there was a man who had a rope tied to a person running in front of him. The person being led was blind.

What separates these people from others? They have three key attributes to accomplishing personal goals; desire, dedication and determination or simply the three Ds.

Now if these people: the amputee, the overweight lady and the blind man were told that they had to maintain an average waistline, run 1.5 miles, do some pushups and sit-ups and had seven years to train for it, do you think they'd be able to accomplish the challenge? Seems like a silly question doesn't it?

Unfortunately, it's not such a silly question if I gave the same challenge to a good portion of our Airmen.

From July 2006 to present I've served in various leadership positions. One leadership tactic I often use is to conduct short notice "mock" PT assessments on Airmen. The majority of people tested were NCO Academy students; however, I also tested several ALS classes and quite a few SNCOs attending the annual induction seminar. Most recently, the Airmen who serve on the 388th FW Staff were tested. To date, 1,190 Airmen have had the opportunity to show me what their made of. A staggering 609 Airmen, or 51 percent, couldn't meet the minimum standards. Quite pathetic!

The Air Force adopted the current fitness program over seven years ago, and starting January 2010 the program will get even tougher. So why do we still have a good percentage of our Airmen struggling with fitness expectations?

Just as many of us have the desire, dedication and determination to succeed in the personal, professional, spiritual and emotional facets of our lives; we must also use the three Ds to succeed in fitness.

The Air Force push to ensure our Airmen are consistently fit is not new nor is it temporary. Our fitness standards are clear and well defined. Meeting and exceeding the standards is not optional. Leaders at all levels must treat fitness as a high priority. We must establish high expectations and hold our Airmen accountable to achieve them.

The amputee, the overweight lady and the blind man accomplished great feats; there's simply no reason why any member of our force should fail to consistently meet or exceed our fitness standards. The excuses are over. How would your flight or squadron do on a mock assessment? No better time than the present to ensure your people will meet or exceed the new standards.

Bring credit and honor to the United States Air Force and take care of each other in all your actions.