Arizona Guard embarks on resiliency training
September 21, 2011
PHOENIX, Sept. 21, 2011 -- The Arizona National Guard is establishing a new standard for its personnel in response to the stresses and strains on service members and their families as a result of serving a nation that has been involved in overseas conflicts for almost a decade.
Known as the "Be Resilient Program," this new endeavor focuses on the prevention (before), intervention (during) and postvention (after) phases of one's ability to cope with stress and adversity, and the willingness of that individual to find and use resources that can aid in dealing with those sources of stress and adversity.
"In the past, efforts were aimed at trying to prevent a service member from falling over the edge of the cliff [suicide]. The Be Resilient Program seeks to keep service members from getting close to that edge by imparting skills and intervening way before that point," said Capt. John Harrison, a liaison officer from the Arizona Army National Guard's 98th Aviation Troop Command.
"The Arizona National Guard has done a good job of blazing a trail regarding resiliency training. This training is tailored to our specific needs," said Capt. Emmett Masenga, a liaison officer from the Arizona Army National Guard's 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
The Be Resilient Program addresses the already identified need to increase individual resiliency; offers suggestions for dealing with stress; and provides recommendations for managing crisis situations, including traumatic events and suicide.
"With the involvement of resources outside the traditional military community, owing to the unique makeup of a force of citizen Soldiers and Airmen, the Be Resilient Program is unique to the National Guard compared to the active duty force," said Col. Elmon R. Krupnik, state chaplain for the Arizona National Guard and a member of the resiliency program team.
Thomas Winkel, a veteran, is a civilian Military & Family Life Consultant assigned the Family Programs Office of the Arizona National Guard. He sees the Be Resilient Program as being "a comprehensive approach to all aspects of a service member's life, including civilian concerns."
"This is a program designed and built by and for our military, especially our citizen Soldiers and Airmen," said Winkel.
In developing the Be Resilient Program, the Arizona National Guard sought to avoid focusing on the negative, a human tendency. The use of unvalidated programs was deemed not effective, so best practices were selected from appropriate Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs programs. Also, the program had to be uncomplicated and not add to the flood of information already flowing to all levels of command.
The goals of the program remain all encompassing and specific, said Winkel.
The Arizona National Guard's requirements included that the Be Resilient Program support the mission, be Guard-centered and community inclusive (outside resources), support retention, span one's full time in service (from Day One throughout one's career), include families, be skills centered, support one's overall well-being, be applicable to both Army and Air assets, be flexible to allow for growth and change, and be cohesive across all phases.
"The inclusion of families is a core component," said Winkel.
"Being skills centered, as opposed to a conceptual approach, gives a person the practical knowledge of what to do when confronted with a stressful or crisis situation," said Winkel.
The use of a holistic or comprehensive approach coupled with core programs which cover all basics of a person's life allow for the flexibility a program like this needs.
"As more research becomes available, we can adjust accordingly to keep this program fresh and relevant," said Winkel.
The Be Resilient Program, as it is being presented in Arizona, draws from and integrates the best practices of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness/Comprehensive Airman Fitness programs, Combat & Operational Stress First Aid, and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. The materials from these curricula intersect across the prevention/intervention/postvention phases.
"Our experience has shown that while there is no one program that does it all, the combination of these well-proven programs has great potential to serve us well across all resiliency phases," said Winkel.
Each individual's emotional health and well-being responds differently to stress injuries and stress illness. By providing the practical tools to deal and cope with the adverse and stress producing circumstances that life brings, the Arizona National Guard sees potential for strengthening the force in far-reaching ways.
"These tools that we seek to provide our citizen Soldiers and Airmen not only have the potential to make our service members better at their military jobs, but also better parents, workers, and citizens, with improved morale and a greater sense of purpose," said Krupnik.
About 200 first-line leaders have already been certified as resiliency training assistants and will carry the message back to the troops.