Wyo. National Guard Implements Soldier Resilience Training
By Lt. Col. Samuel E. House
Public Affairs Officer
Wyoming Military Department
William Breckenridge, Wyo. National Guard deputy director for the Soldier, Family and Employer Readiness Support Team presents a topic during the Resilience Training Assistant course held in Aurora, Colo., July, 26, 2012. The course was established to assist Master Resilience Trainers in presenting resilience techniques to Soldiers and families. (U.S. Army Photo by Lt. Col. Samuel House)
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -Soldiers in the Wyoming Army National Guard should be getting new tools to deal with adversity, combat stress and face challenges, 2nd Lt. Deane James says.
"Resilience training is the Army's proactive approach to helping to positively change individual's feelings about being deployed," James said. "It gives them extra tool sets to draw upon to help combat things such as PTSD and suicidal thoughts."
James is the resilience training coordinator for the Wyoming Army National Guard, and a member of the 148th Signal Company.
Formerly called Battlemind Training, Resilience Training focuses on developing psychological reinforcement for the Soldier, leaders and their families as part of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.
The training is none too soon. According to a report released through the Associated Press in June, suicides among the active duty military have outnumbered combat deaths so far this year, while in Jan. 2011, the National Guard Bureau averaged one suicide per day.
This trend is exactly what Resilience Training is designed to help prevent, James said.
"I want to create an army that is just as psychologically fit as it is physically fit," Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., U. S. Army chief of staff said in a 2011 book by Martin E.P. Seligman entitled "Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being"
"The key to psychological fitness is resilience," Casey said in the interview, "and from here on, resilience will be taught and measured throughout the United States Army."
The program uses six core competencies of self-awareness, self regulation, optimism, mental agility, strengths of character, and connection.
According to the University of Pennsylvania curriculum, each competency is developed through seven primary skills that Soldiers are trained to internalize. These skills are usually in the form of questions about an issue, how the issue makes the Soldier feel, and identifying the worst, best, and most likely outcomes to an issue.
Training and information is targeted to all phases of the Soldier deployment cycle, Soldier life cycle and Soldier support system. James said his goal for the program is to meet the requirement issued from the Department of the Army and continue to enhance the program within the Wyoming National Guard.
Currently there are 15 Master Resilience Training instructors, and 18 Resilience Training Assistants in the Wyo. Army National Guard, James said.
"By next year there will be a requirement for 27 Master Resilience Trainers within the state, and 82 Resilience Trained Assistants, which breaks down to one MRT per company, and one RTA per platoon, and in some cases one RTA per squad, depending on the size of the organization," said James.
"These are our minimum requirements. We will always work to train more. This is a program where the more people we have trained the better we are," he said.
The difference between the MRT and the RTA, James said, is that the master trainer must attend a two-week intensive training, while the assistant course is a four-day course and can be taught by the MRT. The assistants provide a force multiplier, he said, because the MRT can only train 12 Soldiers at a time.
Currently, Soldiers are traveling to Colorado for the training; however, James said he plans to hold an RTA course in Wyoming in the near future so Soldiers can train locally.