The Fort Campbell R2 Performance Center and 1st Brigade Combat Team have teamed up to build resiliency, communication skills and community in a five-week boot camp program for spouses.
The R2 Bastogne Spouse Boot Camp was created by R2 team members Bethany Harold and Kelsey Otten to share resiliency tools for spouses who may be dealing with the absence of their service member due to field training or deployments.
“It really started out as a fun idea for a boot camp program for spouses,” said Bethany Harold. “It developed into looking for ideas we can offer to spouses on how they can handle their Soldier being gone, through stress management tools and activities to focus on while they are away.”
The boot camp is broken up into different topics each week, such as goal setting, assertive communication, stress management, and more. At the end of each session, spouses choose to participate in different workout activity to build physical resilience as well. To promote social distancing, face coverings and social distancing are enforced. The session also is offered virtually.
“This is our first iteration of the boot camp, focusing on the spouses of 1st Brigade Soldiers who are away at the Joint Readiness Training Center,” Harold said. “It’s five weeks long, for every Tuesday of September. We talk about more effective ways of communicating with your Soldier while they are away, being alone, different stressors you face, and parenting during a deployment. We also talk about how to reconnect with Soldiers when they return.”
The boot camp also helps build a community for the Bastogne spouses to seek support from and to learn from each other.
“I always say, it’s important for a spouse to have at least one friend,” said Laura Wise, Bastogne spouse. “If they have at least one friend, they have someone they can get together with and get the support they might need. They need a personal connection, because if they don’t, it could be a very lonely life, which in turn could be very difficult on their Soldier if they know their spouse is having a miserable time.”
By fostering resiliency at home, R2 believes they can help build resiliency for Fort Campbell Soldiers.
“We want to make sure when Soldiers are gone for large group training or deployments, it’s the best training or deployment it can be,” said Becky Farmer, R2 Performance Center manager. “When the Soldiers feel confident everyone is taken care of here, all of the time apart makes it that much more worthwhile, and individually and collectively, their entire brigade should be much more resilient.”
The team believes if they provide effective tools the spouses can use at home during deployments and field training, they can help alleviate some of the stressors that occur.
“We spend so much time building resiliency in Soldiers so they are able to meet the various demands expected of them, whether they are at home or at work,” Otten said. “In order for them to be successful, they need their home front to be just as resilient as they are. By providing stress management skills, goal setting skills, and effective communication, it can help make their home lives better, which makes their work lives better.”
For the spouses, they feel the tools they’ve been learning in the bootcamp sessions will help their experience with the Army in the long-run.
“I personally think spouse resiliency is important because the Army life is a long game,” Wise said. “There are a lot of deployments and time apart and stressors we have to deal with, so we need additional tools and training to help deal with it. It’s hard all the way around. I’ve really enjoyed the sessions so far, we did an activity about goal setting and wishes which I thought was very interesting, and I would highly recommend this training to other spouses.”
Cattleya Born, another Bastogne spouse participating in the boot camp, said the goal-setting tools and stress management tools can be incredibly useful for military spouses.