By Staff Sgt. Mark PattonJanuary 22, 2014
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- "I want your honest feedback."
That was the message delivered by Col. James F. Reckard III, commander, 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, to the Soldiers and Family members gathered for the Dauntless Ready and Resilient Seminar at Fort Leonard Wood's Main Post Chapel on Jan. 16.
The participating Soldiers and Family members represented the various units of the 4th MEB, and they spent the day cycling through groups focusing on topics such as underage drinking, Family readiness groups, relationships, financial readiness and life coaching.
"Every healthy organization has a good feedback system," said Chaplain (Maj.) Nathan McLean, 4th MEB's senior spiritual leader and project officer for the seminar. "It takes courage to do this."
The groups were also broken down by rank and leadership levels, so the facilitators of each session could garner feedback from different perspectives.
The brigade-driven seminar wasn't an Army tasking and it didn't come from a higher headquarters. Seminar organizers said it was something of which the 4th MEB wanted to take ownership.
As was evident during the seminar's different group meetings, it didn't take much prodding for the Soldiers to open up.
During one financial readiness class, one leader spoke of a subordinate who was having trouble coming up with gas money, but was talking on the latest smartphone to hit the market.
It wasn't just Soldiers who were providing feedback and learning from the day's activities, Spouses were also eager to have their voice heard.
"Families have a unique perspective," McLean said. "Different kind of feedback than we hear from the Soldiers."
Brittany Ivie, a 4th MEB spouse, accompanied by her husband Zachary, a specialist, and 11-month-old son, Colton, said it was great to see the brigade take initiative and host a seminar on resilience.
"It's also nice to involve spouses. Sometimes we're just on the sidelines," Ivie said.
In a seminar focused on underage drinking and alcohol abuse, junior Soldiers swapped ideas on what their leaders could do to help prevent alcohol-related incidents. Seasoned Soldiers shared real-life experiences as they brainstormed various topics and questions presented by the facilitators.
Capt. Michael Stitt, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 92nd Military Police Battalion, said the seminar opened up a venue and leaders could find out what their peers on the left and right were doing and share some best practices.
Perhaps the biggest indicator as to the effectiveness of the day's seminar groups?
After the seminar concluded and lunch was served, the talk at the tables wasn't about the upcoming holiday weekend or the weekend's football matchups. Conversations continued to focus on seminar topics and examples.