FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "We have a window of opportunity here to make our Army better, and stronger if we focus on the right things and resiliency is one of the right things that will make the Army stronger and more effective," said Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, addressing senior leaders during a service-wide suicide prevention stand down, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Sept. 27, 2012.
Resiliency is the ability to withstand, adapt, recover and grow in the face of challenges and demands. According to the Army's "Ready and Resilient" website, becoming resilient requires a wide-ranging approach that focuses on the mind, body and spirit working together. Soldiers who were a part of Army led resiliency training showed improved levels of resilience and psychological heath.
Noncommissioned officers from across the 82nd Airborne Division took part in resiliency training with an innovative one-week leadership course. The course "Soldier 360" teaches leaders skills that incorporate personal, and family resiliency which they can take back to their soldiers.
Division leadership recognized the tremendous potential of "Soldier 360" to impact first line leaders and build resiliency and leadership skills, said Lt. Col. Mike Tarpey, 82nd Abn. Div. surgeon.
The course uses unconventional techniques like yoga, behavioral science and mindfulness to build on leadership skills learned in conventional NCO education schools like Warrior Leader Course and Advanced Leader Course. The leaders use these tools to improve their personal resiliency.
"This course gave me tools and techniques to not only deal with my inner demons but also the tools and techniques to further my career; to be a better leader, to promote good health, physical fitness and discipline to the soldiers that are under me." said Sgt. John Readman, a squad leader with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div.
Readman and all the leaders in the course were able to have one-on-one time with subject matter experts from military family life consultants, substance abuse counselors, physicians, chaplains and professionals from Army Community Service and the wellness center.
Retired Col. Mary Lopez, director for "Soldier 360" course said, they looked at all the programs available to soldiers and brought together the subject matter experts in each program to demonstrate what their program can do.
Part of the course involved helping NCOs with their struggles. Dr. Glen Wurglitz, a clinical psychologist and instructor in the course, said by using the various programs to help them, the leaders gained first hand knowledge of these programs and they can use their improved understanding to help soldiers who are struggling.
"Within the first day [of the course] he was a lot calmer, more relaxed, ready to come home, spend time with his family and was able to leave work at work," said Amethyst Albert about her husband, Staff Sgt. Justin Albert, a platoon sergeant with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div.
Amethyst also took part in "Soldier 360". The course works to improve relationships and trust among soldiers and their families. Married Paratroopers were encouraged to bring their spouse the last two days of the class. The course covered couples communication, parent-child communication and couples yoga during that time.
"We definitely learned ways to increase our communication as a couple. Honestly, I think this week has been a total game changer in our marriage," said Amethyst.
Amethyst was not the only one in the Albert family who gained important insight into their own behavior.
"I was able to identify stressors [and] the facilitator here helped me identify ways to cope with them. They [the instructors] help you reinforce your personal resiliency. That will lead to better communication between me and Amethyst," said Staff Sgt. Albert.
Albert is one of the 1,200 noncommmissioned officers trained throughout the Army by "Soldier 360;" those NCOs supervise more than 2,200 soldiers and civilians, said Col. Lopez.
She went on to say, "It's the NCO that looks the soldier in the eye every day and sees how they are doing. That's why the program focuses on the NCO."