Resiliency training creates peer counselors
April 26, 2012
- Soldiers handle problems through peers
FORT SILL, Okla.-- Junior enlisted Soldiers are encouraged to go to their chain of command when they have problems with anything and everything from needing time off to weapons training.
One aspect the chain would appreciate a helping hand with, however, is Soldiers' every-day emotional concerns. Often, Soldiers have issues they either do not feel comfortable sharing with their direct supervision or feel like they would be wasting their command's time.
While the Army stresses the opposite is true, especially with the "open door policy" of every commander, regardless of a Soldier's rank, the problem still exists.
Fort Sill's Battle to Battle program, or B2B, addresses this issue by training junior enlisted Soldiers from every battalion on post as peer to peer, or battle buddy to battle buddy counselors.
"There are certain problems Soldiers do not like coming to the NCOs with due to the stigma attached of having a problem," said Staff Sgt. Kimani Jackson, A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery, Master Resiliency Training program instructor. "The Battle to Battle program equips Soldiers with knowledge of resources and agencies to help other Soldiers."
First proposed by two 168th Brigade Support Battalion Soldiers, the B2B program was adopted Nov. 22, 2010, and became a postwide institution by Oct. 10, 2011. The year after institution, Serious Incident Reports, the Army's system of tracking major incidents like arrests, suicides, and drunk driving, markedly dropped.
It was intended to enhance the effectiveness of the Army's overall resiliency training program. The goal being to enable Soldiers to withstand shock and adjust more easily to stressful military events like training and deployment as well as life events such as divorce, financial issues and loss of loved ones.
The B2B extensive coursework includes master resiliency training, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training and techniques on how to deal with emotionally charged situations.
Topics ranged from helping with grief to thoughts of suicide, conflict resolution, emotional boundaries and overviews of helpful, professional programs and services Soldiers can refer others to.
Marine-turned-Soldier Spc. John Button, 609th Forward Support Company, who has completed multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, expressed his experience in the course.
"The Army is a collection of diverse backgrounds with its own set of issues. When I was in the Marines, we had more unit cohesiveness and less communication breakdown between lower and upper enlisted personnel," Button said. "The Battle to Battle program opens up a whole new communication channel for Soldiers to help each other out. I think it's a great program and I'm glad to have the training."
A credit to the Army's realization that mental and emotional health are just as important to Soldiers' well-being and battle effectiveness as physical training and tactics, the B2B program has provided a necessary relief from the strain of Army life.
"The program trains Soldiers to be both a relief valve for stress and sensor to identify growing problems before they reach a boiling point. It also strengthens the bonds of Soldiers," said Spc. Joseph Dees, 168th BSB.