By Meghan Williams (Fort Carson)May 30, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Donna Winzenried steeled herself with a deep breath before rolling her kayak upside down in the Iron Horse Sports and Fitness Center pool. Seconds later, she burst out of the water, high-fiving Evan Howey, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff member.
Hauling herself out of the pool, shaking with adrenaline, Winzenried crowed, "I want to call my husband right this second and brag, because he won't believe it."
Winzenried was one of about 130 military spouses from around the Pikes Peak region who gathered at the 2013 Mountain Post Spouse Wellness Conference at the Fort Carson Resiliency Campus May 22.
Warrior Family Community Partnership Manager Kristen Kea said the conference's goal was "to expose attendees to all of the wellness programs that are always available on Fort Carson."
The all-day conference included four 45-minute breakout sessions, giving spouses an introduction to on-post fitness opportunities such as rock climbing, Zumba and Total Body Resistance Exercise.
Spouses looking for less of an adrenaline rush attended lectures touching on all five aspects of resiliency, including Deployment Strategies for Families and the Nurturing Parent Program.
"If they took Intro to Kayaking and they loved it, our goal for them is to take a kayaking trip through Outdoor Recreation. Or if they took one of the resilience classes … that they would actually say, 'Wow, this is what resilience is all about and I really want to attend a Family Resilience Training class,'" said Kea.
The day began with attendees unfurling their complimentary yoga mats in the Iron Horse Sports and Fitness Center main gymnasium and flowing through a series of basic yoga poses.
Following yoga, keynote speaker Karen Reivich, Ph.D., co-director of the Penn Resilience Project and research associate in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, presented a one-hour lecture.
Energetically pacing in front of the seated spouses, Reivich outlined key resilience-building tools, including Active Constructive Responding, which teaches the importance of listening to friends and family, particularly when they are sharing good news.
"The quality of your relationship is determined by your answer to this question: 'Will you be there for me when things go right?'" Reivich said. She described realizing she was reacting negatively the majority of the time her husband shared good news with her, and using ACR to dramatically increase her positive responses.
All attendees received a copy of "The Resilience Factor," a book Reivich co-wrote and published in 2002.
As spouses scattered to their first breakout sessions, many returned to the fitness center lobby, where the racquetball courts and café were transformed into a health fair.
Health care providers conducted health screenings -- taking height and weight, providing nutritional guidance, checking immunizations and measuring blood pressure.
"The impetus for the whole event was the need for primary prevention in our patient population and for spouses," said Lt. Col. Diane Heinz, primary care manager.
Heinz, allergist Dr. Christianne McGrath and Evans Army Community Hospital Primary Care Chief Lt. Col. Joel Tanaka were on hand to evaluate patients.
Heinz said the doctors were sharing preventive measures to assist with any type of risk factor, such as inadequate sleep, tobacco use, obesity and high blood pressure. "That way we can direct them to some appropriate resources we have here on post (and) get them back with their primary care manager."
Halfway through the breakout sessions, the spouses gathered for lunch. Sitting by the resiliency campus water feature, they recounted their morning accomplishments.
"I did rock climbing and TRX and loved them," said spouse Jenni Maddi.
Lilly Christy said she appreciated hearing relationship-building advice that "you know, but need to be reminded of" during "Survival Skills for Healthy Families," taught by Chap. (Maj.) Jesse King, HHC, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson.
Christy, who has been a military spouse for eight months, admits it has its challenges. "The Army takes care of you. I feel like, if you're having any problems, there's always an agency or something to help with that, whether it's financial or relationships. There are so many services, so it's definitely easy to integrate into the community."
Other women at the table nodded in agreement.
"This ended up being an excellent day today," Maddi concluded.