Major General Robert Abrams, 3rd Infantry Division Commanding General speaks with Soldiers, Family Members and civilians at the resiliency training graduation at Marne Garden, July 14. The 40-hour course incorporates personal as well as communal coping methods to every day troubles, be it ordinary or extraordinary.

FORT STEWART, Ga. - Soldiers, Family and DA Civilians gathered at Marne Garden July 14, to honor 25 Civilians having graduated from the post’s newly created resiliency training course. The 40-hour course prepares Soldiers, Family and Civilians to deal calmly and rationally with the rigors of every day life, whether ordinary or extraordinary.

“Why all this pomp and circumstance for this one week course?” Maj. Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams, Third Infantry Division commanding general said at the ceremony. “The fabric of the Army has been pulled in many directions and we have wear spots. Because of all the efforts we have given, and all the sacrifices, the stress on our force has caused these spots. If we’re really going to be Army Strong, what that really translates into is we have to have resilience. We have to be able to deal with life’s challenges and we need to bounce back.”

The Civilians graduating were part of the second iteration of the course. The first was conducted the month prior.

“It was a very good feeling to be there at the graduation and have the general present us with our certificates,” said Vickie Hollans, 1st HBCT Family Readiness Support Assistant. “It’s a forty-hour training and you go through a lot of modules which teach you a lot about yourself. Also, it teaches you how to handle situations and deal with them for a positive outcome instead of blowing up. The training did a lot for me personally and professionally.”

But the course teaches attendees more than just handling situations, it educates the students how to approach life with a optimistic attitude.

“There’s six core parts of resilience,” said Maj. Gen. Abrams, “My favorite is optimism. I had a previous commanding general who used to tell us that a positive attitude was a combat multiplier, and that was like 100 years ago, long before we had the benefit of academically based resiliency training. Leading with a positive attitude makes a huge difference.”

Major General Abrams addressed the crowd from the stands, walking amongst them.

“I went to a conference recently and I was reminded of the challenges that we as an institution have been carrying for our country. When you stand back and look at it, it’s pretty enormous what our Army has contributed. When I say Army I mean Soldiers, Family Members and DA Civilians. All of you are part of it, so you sort of take all that we have done toward our national security in comparison to the rest of the country for granted. Because you are close to this Army, and a part of it, this 1 percent that is giving their all.”

The general challenged the graduates and attendees there to go out and spread the word of the training, to become ambassadors through their actions and words.

“This is what is going to sustain our Army for the long haul - you are a part of this core capability in our Army,” said Maj. Gen. Abrams. “You now have the skills and knowledge to be agents of change for the Third Infantry Division. I am deputizing all of you to lead a change in how we think about resiliency and what it takes to be a productive member of our community. These skills that you have are not just for you.”

For the graduates, the training intensified not only their own personal wellness, but also their ability to brighten another’s day and help them deal with their problems.

“The training helps you deal with a situation better and look down the road long-term,” said Hollans. “Resiliency is about being able to bounce back through bad situations, or anything you may be dealing with, and move on. If someone yells at me at this moment I don’t need to carry it throughout the day. I think it has enhanced my ability to communicate and deal with the stressors of every day life. When I pass a Soldier and say ‘good morning,' I really want to know that they are having a good morning.”

Hollans also hopes more Soldiers will take the opportunity to attend the course.

“Soldiers are not numb,” she said, “They are just taught to keep going. It is not a necessity at that point, just leave it there, overcome and adapt. Now that we are doing resiliency we are starting to see the softer side of a Soldier who is taught to be hard in combat. I believe a lot of Post-Traumatic Stress is partly based upon bottling things up, now we’re saying ‘it’s ok, I’m a little stressed and I want to deal with it.'”

Major General Abrams dared the graduates to force him to take administrative and logistical action for the course.

“Put the problem in my rucksack that I have to go out and get additional trainers,” he said with a grin, “that I have to find more classrooms, put that on my back. I’m happy to do that; we’ll build capacity as needed. You’re a small capability now. You’re like special munitions to help change people's attitudes and spread the word that this is not some fad, but it is about improving people’s lives.”

Page last updated Wed July 20th, 2011 at 16:29