NSRDEC gets schooled on resilience and performance
April 27, 2012
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Johnston, medical director of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, briefed an audience at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center on April 9 about the different changes CSF is going through, including its effort to focus on physical well-being and assist not only the war fighter, but Soldiers' families and Army civilians.
CSF was created to help maximize individual performance and resilience for U.S. Soldiers.
"We really try to understand the importance and the interconnection between performance enhancement and resilience," Johnston said.
Performance enhancement and resilience are parts of the four different core programs currently used by CSF to help Soldiers, Family members, and Army civilians. This includes the Global Assessment Tool that Soldiers are now required to complete annually, the Comprehensive Resilience Modules used for self-development after the GAT, Master Resilience Trainers, and Institution Military Resilience Training.
"We are starting to realize that resilience and performance are very, very closely intertwined," Johnston said. "Someone who performs better in a certain situation is more likely to be more resilient, because they have a better outcome during the course of that event."
The GAT takes about 15 minutes to complete and is completely confidential. Soldiers' results are not reported to command or leadership. The 105-question survey tallies scores for four different areas: Emotional, Social, Family and Spiritual. Following the results of the test is the CRM, an online training regimen. CRM will soon be more customized to performance levels, and this now optional training will soon be mandatory for Soldiers.
"At the end of the day, our goal is to enhance that (comprehensive fitness) across the board," Johnston said. "That's not just psychologically, but it's also physically."
MRTs are relatively new, and the hope for the future is that there will be MRTs within all companies in the Army. MRTs teach unit personnel and family members resilience skills for the present and future; these groups of MRTs are found throughout the Army, conducting in-person training sessions that benefit many. Institution Military Resilience Training is not necessarily used on a day-to-day basis like the other programs, but it is taught in Training and Doctrine Command schools and involves training that is targeted to a unit's deployment cycle.
While CSF's focus once was primarily on psychological wellness, the addition of physical components such as nutrition and physical fitness are necessary.
"By taking an individual and giving them ongoing longitudinal training in performance and various aspects of resilience enhancement, we can raise their baseline resilience," said Johnston, "and also their performance level, so that when they do encounter an adverse situation or adverse event … they would perform better during the course of that event … They have a certain set of skills that allows them to perform better, be more resilient, in the heat of the moment."
Whether the stressful event is combat, deployment, family separation, a break up with a boyfriend/girlfriend, a divorce, or another adverse event, the goal of these different training programs is to empower people to be able to handle tough times. According to CSF's research, even after trying events, people have experienced "post-adversity growth."
"There's a lot of new research in the psychological area on this (post-adversity growth), but also it pertains to certain aspects of physical fitness, as well," Johnston said. "The idea is to sort of proactively or preventively brace this resilience so that they perform better and they experience post-adversity growth."
Further studies will continue within CSF to add physical fitness into the GAT and create an additional core program with a focus on physical well-being within CSF. CSF desires to work with places such as NSRDEC to collaborate and create better programs as they continue to transition.
"Just like PT, where we have a distribution of Soldiers … with regular training … we really want to do the same thing but include the combination of psychological and physical fitness," Johnston said. "There will be a combined training assessment in both those areas together, and we are going to get a lot further than just focusing on push-ups and sit-ups, but really understanding how that impacts both the psychological and physical."
CSF's motto is "Strong Minds, Strong Bodies," and these additional improvements should create stronger minds and bodies for those who are able to work with CSF.