FORT. MCCOY, Wis. –School opportunities come and go throughout a Soldier's career - some help check boxes for basic unit readiness while some change a Soldier's entire career. The Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) Level 1 course is an Army training like no other, however, and on Sept. 25, 2020, six West Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers graduated from the 80-hour course at the Wisconsin National Guard's Regional Training Institute at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, ready to support the mission of total Soldier readiness.Readiness is the Army's top priority and MRTs are at the forefront of the Ready and Resilient (R2) program. MRTs provide training and resources to the Army Family to enhance resilience and optimize performance."Resiliency is the most strategic tool we employ to heighten awareness within the WVARNG,” stated Robin Kincaid, Resiliency and Risk Reduction coordinator for the WVARNG. “If we change the way we think, we change the way we act, therefore, we change the outcome. Becoming self-aware of the core reason a person thinks the way they do, is challenging and astounding. Service Members attending the Master Resiliency Training (MRT) Level 1 course learn self-awareness, and is unlike any training they have experienced throughout their military career. Not only do they acquire knowledge of how to help others in the Military, but they also learn a great deal about themselves in the process.”Resiliency and risk reduction reinforces the Army Values, beliefs and attitudes, and educates members of the Army team (Soldiers, families and civilian employees) about the importance of building connections with each other, taking care of one another, and being there to support one another using proven strategies.Skills learned include goal setting, energy management, emotional awareness and regulation, impulse control, de-catastrophizing, putting it in perspective, effective communication, challenging negative beliefs, problem solving, and real time resilience. While Soldiers attending the course come away with the mastery to train others on these skills, many said they left with a new understanding about themselves as well."'I’m already applying ACR (Active Constructive Responding [a good news response model]) and ACT (Activating Event/Thought/Consequence) at home with my girlfriend," said Staff Sgt. Kayla Robertson who is assigned to Joint Forces Headquarters.Robertson, who has served in the WVARNG for 10 years, said using humor helps her a lot, but really working the resiliency skills helped with her transition back home after being away for two weeks, strengthening their relationship.Staff Sgt. Aaron Shuemake, 1528th Forward Support Company, Special Operations (Airborne), also said that being open and strengthening relationships with family and friends by using ACR when responding to good news is something he wasn't aware of, but wants to work on.Both non-commissioned officers said the networking and social connections they made over the course were important, too.The leaders sent to become MRTs are asked to be vulnerable and honest with themselves and others during the course. Connections between Soldiers build trust and empathy and a more ready and resilient unit. Leaders who model the right behaviors and reinforce the need to cultivate relationships are positive influences and can help get buy-in from those who don't trust that the Army needs Soldier cohesion to achieve positive outcomes.Officers and NCOs graduating the course earn the Additional Skill Identifier (ASI) 8R MRT Level 1. This is the entry-level trainer responsible for resilience and performance enhancement training for small group training, like platoons, squads and Family Readiness Groups.In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, precautions were taken to ensure a safe course for the more than 130 participants and staff during the large blocks and small group break-out sessions.Service Members that are interested in the WVARNG's R2 program can contact Robin Kincaid at: 304-561-6817For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard Twitter