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CMAFS Airmen discover warrior concept, resiliency techniques

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – D. J. Eagle Bear Vanas speaks to a group of Airmen explaining the “warrior concept” and the importance of resiliency in the auditorium of Cheyenne Mountain AFS Nov. 19. Vanas, a tribally-enrolled member of the Odawa, is a motivational speaker who shares with his audiences stories designed to help listeners stay resilient, lead with courage, and thrive in tough, changing environments. Vanas spoke at CMAFS as part of its National Native American Heritage Month observance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – D. J. Eagle Bear Vanas speaks to a group of Airmen explaining the “warrior concept” and the importance of resiliency in the auditorium of Cheyenne Mountain AFS Nov. 19. Vanas, a tribally-enrolled member of the Odawa, is a motivational speaker who shares with his audiences stories designed to help listeners stay resilient, lead with courage, and thrive in tough, changing environments. Vanas spoke at CMAFS as part of its National Native American Heritage Month observance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. -- As part of National Native American Heritage Month, Cheyenne Mountain AFS hosted D. J. Eagle Bear Vanas, who spoke to Airmen on the warrior concept and the importance of resiliency Nov. 19.

Vanas, a tribally-enrolled member of the Odawa, is a motivational speaker who regales his audiences with stories designed to help listeners stay resilient, lead with courage and thrive in tough, changing environments.

Also an Air Force Academy graduate and 10-year veteran, Vanas shared a story of his participation in a sacred Native American ceremony known as the Sun Dance. During this four-day ceremony, participants fast and pray, which culminates in a dance around a dogwood tree referred to as the Tree of Life.

Vanas described this experience as one of the most humbling moments of his life as it taught him that life is not about seeking glory for one's accomplishments, but rather one's service - the moment he truly understood the warrior concept.

He explained further that it is critical for people to invest their time in the right things.

"When you willingly give your time you can change a person's trajectory," said Vanas. "But you have to do it willingly, and that's the tough part."

Vanas advised his audience to use their "toolkit" - one's experiences and abilities; things that cannot be taken away - to help themselves and those around them.

"Bettering ourselves should not be just for us, but for each other," Vanas added.

One member in attendance that day, Master Sgt. Americo Galdeano, 721st Communication Squadron section chief, said he truly enjoyed the event and thought Vanas' stories were amazing.

"I most enjoyed his stories that related to themes of resiliency," said Galdeano. "To hear his stories enforce what the Air Force is trying to capture and deliver was really exciting."

"D.J.'s powerful message reminded us that time is our most precious resource, which we must use guided by our values, to provide clarity on what's important to make our lives easier and more fulfilling," said Col. Travis Harsha, CMAFS and 721st Mission Support Group commander. "It was a great honor to host D.J., a humble veteran, servant-leader and inspiring warrior."

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