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Airmen's limits to potential are restrictions they place on themselves

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MARCOA Media
Story by SSgt AlexandraAlexandra Longfellow on 09/18/2019
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. It is important for everyone to stay fit and healthy, but for Airmen, it's essential to have a high level of physical fitness in order to perform at an optimal level.

Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Cook, 21st Security Forces Squadron operations superintendent at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, participated in the 2019 Alpha Warrior Nellis Super Regional competition in Nevada in July.

The regional competition brought the top eight male and female competitors from the Western region to compete for a spot on the national team.

The competition was a mix of obstacles set to test participants' strength, agility, endurance and basic ability to push Airmen to their limit without giving up.

"It was painful and I completed all obstacles successfully," Cook said. "Although, I ultimately failed in making a qualifying time for nationals, I learned that perceived caps in our potential can be challenged and broken through."

Cook says he is confident that in Alpha Warrior 2020 he can break through his 7-minute time barrier.

Cooks explains how it is important for Airmen to know the only limits to their potential are the restrictions they place on themselves.

"As defenders, fitness is and should be at the forefront of our training," Cook said. "Aside from the demands of working in environments where you are constantly carrying a load of gear, fitness instills a sense of self-discipline that is contagious and can affect all facets of our lives."

While the physical domain is one of the four wellness domains, each domain is directly tied to the other three. Mental wellness is the ability to effectively cope with the unique mental stressors and challenges needed to ensure mission readiness.

Cook said his mission is to lead, train and equip his Airmen to ensure they are the most lethal security forces fighting force Air Force Space Command has in order to protect home station assets while simultaneously deploying to protect Air Force assets and interests globally.

Cook has some ideas for change within the unit. His first goal is moving back into an 8-hour shift schedule. However, in order to do that, Cook said he and his security forces command team have to engage the root cause, and that is ensuring team members are mentally and physically ready to accomplish their mission as defenders.

Previously, Cook was able to serve as the commandant of Airman Leadership School for four years at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

"One of the amazing benefits of being a commandant is working with Airmen from a multitude of Air Force specialty codes," Cook said. "For years I taught them in the classroom and listened to what they had to say, and I learned that perceived issues are universal across the Air Force and not just limited to security forces."

Cook has simply listened to what his Airmen had to say and applied the lessons he learned during his career.

"We are developing programs to instill pride in our defenders while making them healthier, better-rounded Airmen who are ready to aggressively pursue the pride in wearing the beret," Cook said.

Cook gives advice to his defenders, "Remember the pride we all had on graduation day when we earned the right to wear the blue beret, never forget it."

"We are the sword and shield of the greatest fighting force the world has ever known," he continues. "Don't lose faith in what we do and instead place your faith in your security forces brothers and sisters-in-arms and be damn proud to be a defender. HUA!"

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