Ready, set, resilient
December 2, 2013
HEADQUARTERS, U.S. ARMY ALASKA, Fort Wainwright, Alaska -- U.S. Army Alaska leaders, Soldiers, families and civilians had the opportunity to see, experience and learn about the plethora of resources and support available to help them bounce back from the rigors and stresses of a demanding lifestyle in the military, and specifically within U. S. Army Alaska.
"The focus this week is the middle phase of the three-phase plan to inform military unit leadership even down to the soldier level of all those activities and support agencies out there to support them on their mission," said Acting Garrison Manager Wesley Potter. "There a lot of stressors being exerted on the force right now and the community here on Fort Wainwright has a lot of resources to help to reduce those stressors."
The week-long campaign at all locations in U.S. Army Alaska started several weeks ago. The leaders and senior Non commissioned officers conducted a terrain walk. Simply put, the leaders of units, like the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division and other units within USARAK, rotated through the agencies and support staff, weeks in advance.
The leaders learned more details about the resources and capabilities available to their troops. The location, POCs and process of accessing these resources. It was a train-the-trainer type of event. Several weeks after that terrain walk, USARAK hosted a week-long campaign, in which troops and leaders were able to attend classes, training and even sporting events to learn more about these resources.
"We're working with the Soldiers in developing skill sets to become more ready and resilient," said Karen Conrad, the Army Community Service director. "There are a lot of courses in stress management, domestic violence prevention, sexual assault prevention, a lot of parenting and marriage and relationship."
"Although these classes and resources are not new to the Army or the families, the delivery has changed, this week is part of that delivery method, getting as much information and POCs out to as many units, leaders, and families." She said.
Throughout the week, guest speakers and subject-matter experts hosted many briefings and classes. One of these speakers was Maj. George Corbari, the force management officer for the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii. He is a leader, coach and mentor who struggled with depression and suicidal ideations for many years. After overcoming a "crucible year," he emerged with a new perspective and mission to prepare and assist Soldiers and leaders in preventing suicides.
He spoke to many Soldiers and leaders throughout the week, about the stresses and adversity he faced.
"It was a long year, it seemed like one bad thing after another happened, soon I found myself thinking my family might be better off and these problems."Corbari said.
"From all the classes and training, I knew what the warning signs were and tried to do the opposite, so no one would know what I was planning." He said. "That of course was a warning sign, at an Army school, as a participant in a group project, it was clear I needed help, and of course got it."
Corbari represents what is possible from receiving help through the Army's numerous programs and resources. He is also a symbol to other Soldiers and leaders within U.S. Army Alaska, that stress and challenges occur throughout our lives, in the military they are unique and sometimes even leaders need coaching and assistance in learning how to cope, and work through them, positively.
"Regardless if it is one or 1,000 suicides," said Col. Dennis LeMaster, commander, Medical Activities-Alaska. "we need to provide care and get after it (helping those in need of support)."
"There has been a lot of strain on the force over the last decade, and that strain and stress has manifested itself in many ways, this week is about providing support and resources to help those troops dealing with challenges and reducing the negative course of action they may take."
Although the weeklong campaign is over, the effects will be assessed and monitored throughout phase three and after. "The delivery techniques may change, but these programs are enduring and have been around for a long time," said Potter. "The Ready and Resilient Campaign's resources and agencies have been around prior to the deployments. How do we inform the troops, leaders and families, they exist? This is one of those new delivery methods to reach out, versus reacting to something bad."