The Strong and Ready Warrior
March 13, 2009
- The Strong and Ready Warrior
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The 304th Sustainment Brigade, from Riverside, Calif., arrived in theater in November 2008. It was Brigade Commander Lt. Col. Norman Green's intent to ensure that all of his Soldiers were fully engaged and had something significant to show at the end of the deployment - something that enhanced their lives, health, and well being which would continue to enable the warfighter.
Capt. Peter Strong, a chaplain from Seattle, Wash., spearheaded the concept of the "Strong and Ready Warrior." He envisioned the program and the results to be something tangible that every Soldier can say: "This is one thing I did to better myself!" Strong and his advisory team of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Timothy Brady, a resident of Garden Grove, Calif., Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mary Anne Southwick, a resident of Newcastle, Wash., and Capt. Amanda Gatewood from Stockton, Calif., began meeting in October 2008 to develop the program. The Brigade level-supported event launched in January 2009.
The "Strong and Ready Warrior" program is expected to help Soldiers identify clear and achievable personal and/or professional goals during deployment. Leaders are required to discuss these goals with their Soldiers and assist them in achieving them, even if it means having to adjust the Soldiers work schedule. Although the program is strictly voluntary, it is strongly encouraged that all Soldiers and Leaders participate.
It is anticipated that the "Strong and Ready Warrior" program will empower Soldiers through improved physical fitness, increased mental development, deepened spiritual understanding, and greater personal satisfaction and fulfillment, which the Chaplain describes as the four pillars for success: the body, the mind, the spirit, and the emotions. The "Strong and Ready Warrior" program promotes a holistic approach to health and the four pillars must work together in order to create vitality, calmness, and inner peace.
Strengthening the body through physical exercise, building and integrating the mind by satisfying its hunger for knowledge and enhancing emotional growth through spirituality can only be accomplished when one is fully engaged in "life." The body, mind, spirit and emotions work collectively and are inseparable. If a Soldier devotes him or herself to a minimal regimen of physical exercise and mental stimulation, as a goal set through the program, it will prevent decline and will facilitate growth and maturation. Other benefits of the "Strong and Ready Warrior" program include increased levels of Soldier participation in meaningful activities, reduction in suicidal behaviors, improved unit morale, greater sense of team spirit and leadership development.
Since the "Strong and Ready Warrior" program's inception, Soldiers from the 304th Sust. Bde. have committed to one-hundred-and-eighteen various objectives. The goals range from raising and/or acquiring a perfect score on a physical training test; learning a foreign language; participation in sports activities; losing weight; taking college courses; improving one's GT score; writing a book; attending tax training in order to help Soldiers file their taxes; volunteering at the hospital, and becoming more religious and spiritually grounded.
The quest for mind, body, spirit, and emotional integration through the adoption of a deliberate program such as the "Strong and Ready Warrior" program, will lead to rapid personal growth, a calm sense of self-assurance, the ability to withstand the hardships of life, and the mergence of an increasingly mature, wise, and integrated self.
STORY BY LT. COL. RENEE A. ROUSE, 304TH SUST BDE PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
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