Suicide Prevention Month: Resilience training promotes positive thinking, fortitude
September 30, 2013
Army leaders want military community members to build resilience, or the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity.
Fort Belvoir's installation-wide resilience training program aims to help units, servicemembers and Family members deal with stressors in healthier ways through a variety of training events.
"We give them the ability to grow and thrive in the face of adversity and challenges," said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Tucker, Fort Belvoir's Master Resilience Trainer coordinator and Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program manager.
The program focuses on helping people to think more positively.
"We teach several skills, and my favorite skill is 'Hunt the good stuff' because it builds optimism," Tucker said. "After a long day, everything might not have gone the way you wanted it to, but at the end of the day, if you can find at least three things that were good and reproduce those effects, I think that's a win-win."
Other resilience skills include putting events in perspective, problem solving and assertive communication skills.
"I like assertive communication, because it teaches us how to talk to each other," Tucker said. "That's a skill that builds on how we get our point across without demeaning the other person."
The resilience program is part of the U.S. Army's Ready and Resilient Campaign, which encompasses several programs, including the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program and Suicide Prevention.
According to Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John F. Campbell, the intent of the Ready and Resilient Campaign is to integrate existing programs, to increase individual resilience and improve unit readiness in a more unified effort.
"The campaign is inclusive of the total Army," he said. "Among other things, resiliency support will enhance instruction on healthy living through the Performance Triad of nutrition, activity and sleep; education on how to prevent suicide and suicidal ideations, sexual harassment and sexual assault, bullying and hazing; counseling of Soldiers, Army civilians and Families on the dangers of substance abuse; teaching effective communication skills to avoid domestic violence and encourage Army professionals to ask for help without fear of being stigmatized," he said.
Since September is Suicide Prevention Month, it is a great time for community members to brush up on their resilience skills, according to Lt. Col. Brian Zarchin, Fort Belvoir Garrison, Headquarters Battalion commander.
"The resilience mindset is being positive and taking time to get to know our co-workers, friends and Family members. It's about listening, understanding others' challenges, genuinely caring and acting selflessly to support others," he said. "By treating each other with genuine respect and dignity, we treat the causes, not the symptoms, of the Army's worst challenges: suicide and sexual harassment."
Zarchin understands the pain of losing someone to suicide, after a close mentor, a civilian friend and one of the Soldiers in his battalion killed themselves during the past few years.
"I firmly believe that more effective and genuine communication may have prevented unnecessary losses."
To augment resilience training, garrison leaders hope to create a resilience obstacle course on post within the next year that will teach resilience lessons in a more practical way.
In the meantime, Zarchin said he hopes more community members will get involved in the resilience program by taking part in training or volunteering to become a Master Resilience Trainer.
For more information about becoming an MRT, or the resilience program, contact Tucker at (703) 806-5045 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Fort Belvoir Resilience Facebook page.
Upcoming Resilience Events
• Oct 15: Quarterly MRT Conference, 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the Fort Belvoir Community Center. All installation MRTs and interested commands are invited.
• Oct. 16-17: Resiliency class for in-processing servicemembers and Family members, 9 a.m. at the Community Center
• Oct. 17: MRT Executive Course, 1-5 p.m. at the Community Center for command groups, starting at the company level, and directorates. Department of the Army CSF2 instructors will teach about what resilience training can do for an organization. To sign up, email email@example.com.