School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Natalie Hamrick


Comprehensive Airman Fitness, spiritual fitness, spirituality, core values, perspective, perseverance, purpose, readiness, resilience




The purpose of this qualitative descriptive case study was to fill critical gaps in literature by understanding an Airman’s view of spiritual fitness, how spiritual fitness contributes to overall fitness, resilience and readiness, and what steps could be taken to improve Air Force spiritual fitness programming. To ensure equitability, Airmen were split into two different tenure-based groups: Active-duty Low Tenure (ADlt) and Active-duty high tenure (ADht). ADlt had an average age of 27.9 years old (SD=3.2), were 90% male, 60% White/Caucasian, and 30% Catholic/30% Christian. ADht had an average age of 34.7 years old (SD=2.0), were 100% male, 80% White/Caucasian, and 50% Christian. Spiritual fitness was reported by the following percentages of Airmen as contributing to the other three CAF domains: Physical domain – 70%, Mental domain – 100%, and Social domain – 95%. Readiness (95%) and resilience (90%) were also outlined as heavily impacted by an Airman’s spiritual fitness. Spirituality encouraged Airmen’s physical fitness through the idea that a healthy body is part of a spiritual discipline, the idea that it is part of Air Force requirements, and the idea of treating the body as a temple. Spirituality contributes to mental fitness through trusting in God's promises, providing perspective to reassess situations, and providing a focal point to maintain positivity. Spirituality contributes to social fitness by serving as a source of people who provide a team mentality, support and accountability. Spirituality contributes to readiness by providing strength/excellence in Christ, inner purpose to motivate to action, and living by the Word. Spirituality contributes to resilience by individual perspective and finding strength in God’s word. Airmen suggested four areas to strengthen core values, which were truly embracing and inhabiting the Air Force core values, holding a stronger faith in God, and reinforcing the need to live up to personal core values. Airmen noted that cognitive reframing and prioritization, and doing good for others as methods to aid in strengthen a healthy perspective. In strengthening perseverance, Airmen outline four key areas, which were intentional self-reflective moments, greater religious accommodation/more chaplain interaction, greater devotion to developing spiritual fitness, and inspiring a stronger reliance on others/accountability. Recommendations to strengthen purpose were loving other people and creating shared values and goals, bringing a unique perspective to everyday situations, and continually working on one’s spirituality. Lastly, four key areas were uncovered in strengthening spiritual fitness, which will also impact an Airman’s ability to meet the demand of their assigned missions. Those areas were: Listening to and understanding other Airmen and their plights, educating the force more on spiritual fitness and the spiritual domain of CAF, spending more time in working on self-development in spiritual fitness, and authenticity. This study directly contributes to the understanding of spiritual fitness within the United States Air Force. Contributions to the field of Industrial and Organizational Psychology can be seen in this study through real-world experiences of Airmen and how spiritual fitness guides their readiness, resilience, physical fitness, mental fitness, and social fitness. This study also contributes to faith-based interventions and spiritual applications for non-military organizations.

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