'Army strong' is a lifestyle at Fort Bragg, Army-wide, not a catch phrase
January 28, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - What strikes you most about a formation of uniformed Soldiers' For many, it's the realization that they function as a unit. There's a sense of cohesion, the bigger picture, but it's also easy to lose sight of a single Soldier. In a culture where clothing and mannerisms are often regulated, it's also harder to notice warning signs of depression or personal pressures like debt, declining relationships or combat stress.
In response to growing concerns over Soldiers personal-professional dynamic, the Army has developed a Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program, which aims to improve the way Soldiers, Family members and Army civilians think, respond and live. Within CSF, the Army focuses on five core aspects of health - physical, emotional, social, Family and spiritual - otherwise known as holistic standards for the 'strong minds, strong bodies' mantra.
The CSF program, according to its website, draws upon decades of scientific research to improve Army culture both on and off the job. The results of the research are woven into everything from virtual and classroom trainings to surveys such as the online Global Assessment Test.
The ultimate vision, as outlined by CSF, is to create "an Army of balanced, healthy, self-confident Soldiers, Families and Army civilians whose resilience and total fitness enables them to thrive in an era of high operational tempo and persistent conflict."
For Fort Bragg, this means improving the lines of communication between Families, Soldiers and their chain-of-command - taking a multifaceted approach to the task of developing personal/professional resiliency.
Soldiers who are struggling often mask their issues for fear of social stigma or career repercussions. But having the courage to tell the truth, whether speaking to a superior or completing the GAT survey, is what makes programs like CSF successful.
"The benefit about being honest is that you will be given information that will help you improve in certain areas of your life. So maybe I'm physically strong and I'm going through some emotional issues. If I'm not honest in that GAT, obviously it's not going to give me suggestions to make myself better. And it's all about making ourselves stronger," said Master Sgt. Jennifer Loredo, Fort Bragg and XVIII Airborne Corps and master resilience trainer and noncommissioned officer in charge of the program.
Loredo described the 'total person' as a composite of those five dimensions outlined in the CSF program. When one area is weak, others suffer. The objective, according to Loredo, is to maximize (Soldiers') potential when they're facing challenges.
This positive approach mirrors one taken by Silva Method trainers (a self-mastery program), who teach, 'It's only a problem as long as you do nothing about it. When you take (positive) action, it becomes a project.'
The lifelong goal of CSF is excellence in action. To accomplish this, the Army continues to certify master resilience trainers (2,950 and counting) through a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania. The program has been running strong since 2008, with trainers strategically placed at the corps and battalion levels and down through the ranks.
Here at Fort Bragg, MRTs educate Soldiers in a proactive program environment. Through group sessions and one-on-one mentorships, MRTs present positive action steps for handling life's unpredictable ups-and-downs. An important quality of an MRT, said Loredo, is the ability of trainers to gain and keep the trust of those assigned to their care. Through this type of Army-strong attitude, we stand to gain from a solid culture of versatile Soldiers, she said.
To learn more about the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program and becoming a master resilience trainer, visit www.army.mil/csf/index.html.