WASHINGTON -- Self-care is becoming increasingly important in today's culture. Mental health professionals encourage us to take care of our health in a holistic fashion. Social media offers photos and videos that display positive encouragement for self-care. Self-care should be seen as a pressing responsibility of each individual, a daily check to see if we have any ailments, high-risk behaviors, and mental or emotional problems that need to be addressed.
The U.S. Army has taken self-care a step further by making it a regular part of Soldier care. The Unit Risk Inventory Survey, or URI, is an opportunity for Soldiers to give an honest, anonymous assessment of their well being, and offers commanders the ability to gauge unit readiness and resilience.
The URI is an anonymous questionnaire designed to screen for high-risk behaviors and attitudes that affect unit readiness and personal resiliency. The survey is an assessment tool that assists commanders in determining the occurrences of high-risk behavior through self-reported information.
The Risk Reduction Program Coordinator at installation level is responsible for administering the Unit Risk Inventory to Soldiers to get their candid feedback about risk areas.
"Soldiers are open to it because they welcome changes and improvements to policies, standard operating procedures and tactics, techniques and procedures that enhance the operability of the ever-changing dynamics of the military," said Captain Ashley Callahan, commander of the 547th Transportation Company in the D.C. Army National Guard.
Like all young people, Soldiers face stressors in our fast-paced culture. Chief among these is social media. According to George Washington University's public health website, "A new study identifies distinct classes of social media use among young adults and finds that certain patterns are associated with risky behaviors, such as drug or alcohol use.
But Soldiers face other stressors -- the emotional and psychological trauma of serving in war zones and disaster areas. To monitor wellbeing of personnel returning from deployment, the Headquarters, Army SHARP, Ready and Resilient Directorate developed a command climate survey called the Redeployment URI (R-URI). Like the URI, the R-URI is also an anonymous questionnaire conducted at the company level. It contains 80 items and takes about 45 minutes to complete. In accordance with AR 600-85, the R-URI is administered 90 to 180 days after returning from an operational deployment.
The R-URI applies an audit score to identify drinking problems, provides commanders with insight on unit high-risk behavior, and measures high-risk behavior that has occurred during deployment and since returning.
Both the URI and the R-URI are anonymous surveys, so neither one allows a commander to zero in on individual Soldiers who are having trouble. But both are accurate indicators of a unit's command climate.
"I believe the Unit Risk Survey has been impactful in providing a mechanism for leaders to analyze Soldier readiness and begin to plan practical solutions to issues that could be overlooked in assessments that are not anonymous," Callahan said.
This survey also allows commanders to be more in tune with their Soldiers, educate Soldiers about resources, and find ways to boost morale to lower stress in the units.