Ready, set, resilient
December 5, 2013
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska (Dec. 5, 2013) -- 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 aid them in bouncing 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 a three-phase plan to inform military unit leadership from the rank of General all the way down to Soldier level of all those activities and support agencies that are available to support them on their mission," said Acting Garrison Manager Wesley Potter. "There are many stressors being exerted on the force right now and the community here on Fort Wainwright has access to a variety of resources to assist in reducing those stressors."
The week-long campaign at all locations in U.S. Army Alaska began 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 the process of accessing these resources were reviewed. It was a train-the-trainer type of event. Several weeks after that terrain walk, USARAK hosted another 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 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, and sexual assault prevention. We also cover many aspects of parenting and marriage and relationship issues."
"Although these classes and resources are not new to Soldiers or their families, the teaching method has changed, and this week is part of that delivery method which is 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 the 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 along with a 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, and soon I found myself thinking my family might be better off without me and my 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. As an Army school participant in a group project, it was clear I needed help, and of course I received the help I needed."
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 everyday 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 their situations positively.
"Regardless if it is one or 1,000 suicides," said Col. Dennis LeMaster, commander, Medical Activities-Alaska. "we need to provide care to those in need of support."
"There has been a lot of strain on the force over the last decade, and the stress and strain 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 beyond. "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 available prior to recent deployments.
Future classes will examine and provide answers to the following inquiries: How do we inform the troops, leaders and families? Why do these issues exist? These are just one of the new delivery methods designed to reach out to Soldiers and their families as opposed to reacting to a potentially negative situation."