Athletes participating in the Army Trials took advantage of the opportunity to focus on transition, preparing for college or employment after the Army.Dozens of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Army Veterans participated in Warrior Transition Command's Career Day held on March 25 at Fort Bliss, Texas. One of the breakout sessions, "Transition Track: Unknown", was designed for those who are unsure of their future goals after transition."I've spent the last 20 years doing what I love -- fixing helicopters. Because of my injury, I'm no longer able to do that, so I'm trying to figure out what I want to do next," one participant said.Two Master Resilience Trainer-Performance Experts, or MRT-PEs, ran the afternoon session that focused on helping the athletes recognize the strengths and attributes they bring to a civilian job."The purpose of this session is to raise awareness of your capabilities, be deliberate about planning for where you want to go, and focusing on the 'knowns'. If you are specific about what you have going for you, and if you're focusing on the 'knowns,' you're focusing on what is controllable and will ultimately be more successful," said Russ Flaten, an MRT-PE from the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Training Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.As part of the CSF2 training curriculum, all Soldiers in a Warrior Transition Battalion receive extended training in Goal Setting. Goal Setting is a performance skill that helps Soldiers identify a personally meaningful goal and develop a concrete plan to ensure achievement. This skill is especially important for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers who are facing transition, whether back to their unit or to civilian life.The MRT-PEs asked the athletes what concerns they have when thinking about transitioning."I've had a job for 20 years and, all of a sudden, nothing. I'm going from a structured life to going completely unstructured or unknown. Anxiety and fear are some of the emotions I have, especially because I have to think about taking care of my family," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhall, 2-16 Cavalry, 199th Infantry Brigade, stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia.The MRT-PEs then began the Goal Setting process by asking the athletes to identify the attributes they have as a Soldier and the attributes they would bring to the table as a civilian, pointing out that many of them overlap."You need to know what you have to start with and then think, 'What does this mean on the civilian side; How am I defining my strengths?' Defining your strengths helps you lead to more 'knowns' than 'unknowns'. As Soldiers, you've developed a lot of strengths -- problem solving, leadership, adaptability, teamwork. Everything carries over," said Flaten.But some athletes expressed apprehension."Certain qualifications [on a civilian resume] may turn me away because the language is different, even though I do have a lot of these qualifications," said Spec. Anthony Atemon, member of the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Atemon is participating in cycling, and track and field during the Army Trials.Fernando Lopez, an MRT-PE from the CSF2 Training Center at Camp Parks, California encourages the athletes to take calculated risks. "You need to really assess what's in front of you. If you are focused and take control of your situation, you can make the next chapter a positive one," he said.Other athletes were more confident."I follow the Army Values and I use those as the way I live my life," said Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Tim Payne, a double amputee who is participating in the trials in swimming and discus. "I've always held myself to a high standard as a Soldier. When I get out of the military, I will hold myself to the same mentality."The athletes shared resources with each other that may help them with the transition process moving forward, from taking advantage of internships to becoming a member of an association, like a military or veteran service organization.The MRT-PEs also encouraged the athletes to visit their local CSF2 Training Center. There are currently 18 CSF2 Training Centers across the Army, all are staffed with MRT-PEs who can help not only Soldiers, but also Family Members and Army Civilians with developing a comprehensive Goal Setting plan."Starting the Goal Setting process is a confidence booster. It lowers anxiety, presents clearer expectations and helps you to share experiences with others," said Lopez.
Payne concluded, "I want to maintain the one percent, those attributes that I have."