By Brian B. Feeney, Ph.D.August 19, 2013
ARLINGTON, Va. (Aug. 19, 2013) -- When the Army launched the Ready and Resilient Campaign this spring, it cast a spotlight on Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness' mission to increase the physical and psychological health, resilience and performance of Soldiers, families and Army civilians through Resilience and Performance Enhancement Training.
Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, known as CSF2, was established in 2008, by then-Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George Casey in an effort to address the challenges being faced due to multiple deployments required by persistent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers and their families were trying to keep up with multiple moves, adjusting to life while their Soldier was deployed, and then adjusting to their return. Instead of focusing only on treatment after the issues arose, Casey wanted to also provide preventative measures to the Soldiers and their families to make them stronger on the front end. CSF2 Resilience Training was created to give individuals the life skills needed to better cope with adversity and bounce back stronger from these challenges.
According to Casey, through teaching resilience, "Soldiers can be better before deploying to combat so they will not have to get better after they return."
CSF2 is made up of both online self-development and training, both focus on comprehensive fitness in five dimensions of strength: social, emotional, spiritual, family and physical. Soldiers, their Family members and Army Civilians can all benefit from what the program has to offer.
According to Col. Kenneth Riddle, CSF2's director, over the last four years, CSF2 has turned this training into far more than just the answer to the problem of multiple deployments.
"The training is just as beneficial, if not more so, for the garrison environment," he said. "While Soldiers are trained to meet the stressor of war fighting, they are not trained to meet the stressors that they and their families experience at home, such as financial and marriage issues."
In response, the Army is now creating a culture of resilience.
As more and more Soldiers, family members and Army civilians learn the skills taught by CSF2, the more the entire Army community begins speaking the same language.
Master Sgt. Michael Ernzen, a master resilience trainer, or MRT, said the skills he learned during this training "redefined toughness," noting that Soldiers typically think toughness is all physical, but there's a mental component to it, as well.
Master Sgt. Tim Frock, another MRT, said the training is "completely life altering; I now look at the world in a completely different way."
Soldiers have said that after learning the skills and implementing them at work and at home, they have seen a huge difference in their interactions with others. They better understand how to leverage their strengths and the strengths of others, problem solve and think through their emotions before reacting. As a result, they say they have stronger marriages, better relationships with their children, and better understand the issues their fellow Soldiers are going through. What was originally developed to help the Army Family get through a time of persistent conflict has now turned into arming them with life skills to support them through Army life and beyond.
CSF2 is available to any Soldier, Family member or Army Civilian who wants it.
"All you have to do is take the Global Assessment Tool, or GAT, and see where you score in the five dimensions of strength, and then get training from an MRT," said Riddle.
They will also be able to access advice from experts and communicate with each other on the soon-to-be launched ArmyFit website. ArmyFit offers the virtual community-building features of a social media platform, but is inside the secure .mil environment.
Every installation has embedded MRTs. They can be found by contacting your Battalion Personnel Officer or the installation Army Community Service center. Activated Reserve and National Guard Soldiers can locate an MRT by contacting CSF2 through its website (see below). MRTs are particularly easy to find at installations that have a CSF2 Training Center where people are welcome to drop in. CSF2 currently has 16 Training Centers with six more on the way.
They are Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Jackson, S.C.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; the National Capitol Region; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; and Fort Stewart, Ga. The six currently being stood up are Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Fort McCoy/Fort Custer, Wis., shared site; a Camp Parks/Fort Dix, N.J., shared sight; Grafenwoehr, Germany; Vicenza, Italy; and either Yongsan or Humphreys, South Korea.
Staff Sgt. Randy Traxler, an Assistant Primary MRT Instructor at Fort Hood, sees a future in which Resilience Training will have spread to every corner of the Army, bringing about a culture change.
"We will be practicing the skills in our lives without having to think about it," Traxler said. "It will be who we are, not a training event. We will all be living our lives at a higher level of skill and intention."
The online self-development can be accessed by all members of the Army family by visiting the CSF2 website, http://csf2.army.mil. For more information about training offered near you, please contact the CSF2 offices, http://csf2.army.mil/contact.html.
Start building your resilience and enhancing your performance today.