It’s been almost two months since the country began practicing social distancing in an effort to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Army Resilience Directorate’s Master Resilience Trainer–Performance Experts (MRT-PEs), located at 32 R2 Performance Centers Army-wide, are stepping up to the plate. MRT-PEs are creating digital content to continue to educate, inform, engage and train the Army community on strengthening their resilience by providing tools and skills that can be utilized in everyday life and especially in this time of crisis.
In 2009, the Army implemented the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program, which evolved into the current U.S. Army Ready and Resilient (R2) Program. The program was created to improve Soldiers’ resilience and performance by building physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and Family preparedness capabilities.
Pre-social distancing, a typical in-person training session at the Fort Carson R2 Performance Center could last anywhere between an hour and a full day using various teaching modalities such as flip charts, handouts and role-playing scenarios. Now they are creating short and compelling Facebook videos to continue to provide Soldiers and their Families, and the Civilian workforce, the training.
Piers Kowalski’s shift to a digital platform has been nothing short of “humbling,” he said. Kowalski is part of the 10-person team of contract MRT-PEs at the Fort Carson R2 Performance Center, and his eight minute video about being aware of your emotions and learning to regulate them garnered more than 3,000 views in its first week. His team now conducts live trainings once a week virtually with directorates under Army G-1. And they’re not the only ones.
Fort Benning, Ga., Fort Irwin, Calif., Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Fort Polk, La., Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and Vilseck, Germany, among others, have all taken a similar approach by creating online training to support their communities as well, and the response has been positive.
One of the greatest benefits of virtual online training is the ability to interact in real time, said Sarah Zaoutsos, Brigade MRT rep for the 555th Engineer Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Zaoutsos conducted a training on how to “Avoid Thinking Traps,” providing Soldiers examples of a thinking trap and making it relevant to COVID-19. Not only did she receive positive feedback, but “the Soldiers related well to it and walked away with a much better understanding of what thinking traps are and how to avoid them,” she said.
When COVID-19 social distancing restrictions took effect, the Fort Riley R2 Performance Center immediately took to Facebook. They have produced numerous videos for the 1st Infantry Division community covering an array of topics. Their audience has grown by 5,000 new views since they started sharing their content online and they expect to continue to utilize Facebook once normal operations resume.
Sgt. 1st Class Chris Thurston, from Fort Riley, said their goal is to “ensure that the 1st Infantry Division Soldiers, Family Members and DA Civilians have the ability for unit specific, individual or team trainings during these unprecedented times. If they elect not to reach out to us, they can still use the tools we're providing on the Facebook page to be more successful.”
Carol Burton, SES, Department of Army (DA) Civilian Human Resources Agency (CHRA) secured virtual resilience training for the entire CHRA workforce.
“I thought (the resiliency training) was excellent and such valuable lessons/advice were shared,” said Joy Krush, a senior CHRA leader. “I’m really looking forward to future presentations. I thought that HQ CHRA reaching out to talk to us (CHRA workforce) weekly was a definite sign of caring but bringing (the Army resiliency trainer) in to speak to us was over the top. I cannot imagine that other organizations that have gone to such lengths. How fortunate I feel to be a member of DA Civilian Human Resources Agency.”
Sgt. 1st Class Segun Ayodele, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, said their Performance Experts are continuing to work on delivering quality online training, mental activities, performance enhancing and coping skills training as part of their strategy during the ongoing COVID-19 isolation period through their Facebook page and YouTube channel.
If you’re in need of any materials or information to help keep you ready and resilient during these uncertain times, reach out to your local R2 Performance Center for assistance.
FORT CARSON, Colo.—Piers Kowalski conducts virtual training with Soldiers from Fort Carson. Kowalski is a MRT-PE with the Fort Carson R2 Performance Center.