WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 4, 2014) -- Some 29 spouses and 36 Soldiers at Fort Bragg, N.C., recently finished the 10-day Master Resilience Trainer course. That iteration of the course was largest mixed class yet to attend.
The course provides attendees with the certification and tools to teach and enhance the performance of the entire Army family -- Soldiers, their spouses and families as well as Army civilians.
The spouse Master Resilience Trainer, or MRT, course was piloted in 2012 and 2013, at both Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Carson, Colo. This is the first time the course was offered at Fort Bragg. It is also the largest class of spouses and Soldiers working side-by-side to learn the techniques behind teaching resilience and enhancing performance skills.
The MRT course was an offshoot of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program which was launched in 2009. It has since morphed into Comprehensive Soldier & Family Fitness, which is more well known as CSF2.
While the name has changed, and the program now also includes a focus on families, the goals remain largely the same: to assess and strengthen Soldiers and family members across five dimensions of wellness. Those include the physical, family, spiritual, mental and emotional dimensions.
Bragg's MRT course kicked off March 23 with a mixture of female and male spouses stationed with their Soldiers at the home of Special Forces, the airborne Army and the Army Reserves.
Most of the volunteers were nominated by their brigade or battalion commanders, they then had to appear before a panel who talked with them about their experiences as part of the Army family and why they volunteered for the training.
"The reason I was drawn to this course as a spouse was I believe in giving people the tools they need to perform optimally themselves," said Sarah Shultz, whose husband Dustin is a staff sergeant and 10-year veteran.
Shultz said that sometimes even small events can change a person's perception in a very negative way. Those changes can impact a person's future choices.
"One of the most meaningful things I've learned so far is to develop my ability to examine those small negative events in a different light and look for the positive," she said.
Fort Bragg CSF2 program manager Master Sgt. Juanita Jenkins calls it learning how to "hunt the good stuff."
"Hunt the good stuff is basically learning -- when faced with adversity -- to try and find something positive whenever something negative has happened," she said, explaining that it's easy to get in a rut and focus on the bad.
During the first week of the course, the spouses are taught techniques and coping tools. Later, they focus on practical applications of those techniques and tools in "real life" exercises and vignettes.
Upon completion of the course, attendees will return to the brigade or battalion of their military spouse. Other "Spouse Master Resilience Trainers" may go on to serve at other brigades and battalions or even become involved with family readiness groups or part of non-profit organizations.
Emily Damboise has been married for seven years now to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chuck Damboise. She has already served as a family readiness group leader and now wanted to expand her knowledge by taking the MRT training. As an Army family member, she said she knows how hard the deployments have been over the last 13 years of war.
"Teaching our families how to be resilient, not just after deployment, but before and during is huge," she said. "It's teaching them how to think, how to cope, how to accept the situations they're in and have been given.
"One of the biggest things about resiliency is that when you're under pressure you ask yourself if you're a tennis ball or an egg -- do you bounce back or do you crack like an egg?" Damboise said.
Male spouse Shawn Marshall arrived three weeks ago at Fort Bragg with his sergeant wife, a dental technician. After just three days of training, he said, he already has a real appreciation for the responsibilities the non-military spouse faces.
"I was in the military for 16 years and now our roles have changed, so this has helped me to learn to deal with the other side and now I understand their point of view, like picking up the kids from daycare and cooking," he said.
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